Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Letter: ‘Vote for Barbara L’Italien’

Serving on the Andover Board of Selectmen, I saw first hand the importance of setting aside politics in order to develop responsible policy. Whether it was working with my fellow Selectmen, my colleagues on the School Committee, or our representatives in the state legislature, we all understood that despite our differences, we needed to work together to move Andover forward.

During my service I was lucky to have a partner in Barbara L'Italien. As our State Representative, Barbara made the effort to regularly communicate with residents and local officials in fighting for the Merrimack Valley.

While it may sound abstract to say that Barbara communicated, I cannot think of a better way to describe her hands-on approach to serving our town. Whether it was regularly attending community meetings, or making herself available for a quick phone conversation, I always knew Barbara to be a legislator who viewed local officials as partners in improving Andover.

In government, no two people ever agree 100 percent of the time. But what is undeniable is that government can not function if we don't elect people who can set aside differences, roll up their sleeves, and work together for the betterment of the communities they are suppose to represent. That is why I ask that you join me in voting for Barbara L'Italien as our next State Representative.

John Hess
Chestnut Street, Andover

Saturday, October 27, 2012

LETTER: L'Italien on Boxford's Salt Shed Issue

Living in Boxford's precinct 2 we were fortunate to have Barbara L'Italien as our State Representative for 8 years.  At the same time Boxford was also fortunate to have Brad Hill as a State Representative and Bruce Tarr as our State Senator.  The three of them worked together very effectively for Boxford and were able to accomplish a great deal.  I believe they were particularly successful because of the bipartisan nature of their relationship.  While they had many accomplishments during that time, the most important was the work they did to address the terrible problems that some Boxford residents have with salt in their water.  Barbara L'Italien was key in passing legislation to compel MassDOT to commission an engineering study of the salt problem and recommend solutions to restore the groundwater quality.  I do not believe that the legislation would have been passed in its current form (over the Governor's objections) without Barbara's strong advocacy.  She demonstrated many times that she is willing to do what she believes is right, independent of party.

During those 8 years, Barbara was often in Boxford.  She was at Selectmen's meetings, Masco meetings, held monthly office hours at our senior center and attended other events regularly.  She was consistently responsive to constituent questions and issues.  Between Barbara, Representative Hill and Senator Tarr, we have become accustomed to legislators who are available and responsive, working with Town officials to address Boxford's issues.

In 2010 Jim Lyons was elected to replace Barbara L'Italien.  While Barbara always paid attention to our town, the same cannot be said of Mr. Lyons. Just this past summer, Senator Tarr requested a meeting with the Boxford Selectmen to discuss an issue relative to the salt study.  Senator Tarr, Representative Hill and Representative Lyons were in attendance.  Before the meeting started, I watched as Representative Lyons introduced himself to the members of the Board of Selectmen.  After a year and a half in office, he had never met our town officials nor attended a Selectmen's meeting.  Ironically, at this same meeting the Selectmen recognized Barbara for her important role working on this issue.

Due to redistricting, only residents of precinct 1 have the opportunity to vote for Barbara L'Italien.  I hope that they will vote for her, as she has demonstrated that she will be an effective, responsive Representative for all of Boxford. 

Barbara Jessel

Friday, October 26, 2012

As State Rep, L'Italien Will Work With Both Parties

"I know that this Nov. 6, I'll be voting for the representative that works together with both sides to address the issues important to the town of Tewksbury, Barbara L'Italien. I urge my friends and neighbors to do."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

L'Italien on Bipartisan Solutions

We support Barbara L'Italien for a lot of reasons -- her work ethic, her solution-oriented approach to legislating, and her tremendous accomplishments during eight years as one of Andover's state respresentatives.  But after two years of stalemate and partisan rancor, perhaps the biggest reason we plan to vote for Barbara is because of her willingness to reach across the aisle and her history of finding bipartisan solutions.

Barbara was first elected in 2002, entering the Statehouse as a Democrat just as Mitt Romney began his tenure as a Republican governor.  From the beginning, Barbara made it clear that party politics was not her style.  At considerable risk to her own political future, Barbara stood up against Tom Finneran as one of the very few Democrats unwilling to rubber-stamp Another Finneran term as Speaker.  At the same time, she established good relations with the Romney administration, an important reason why Barbara was so successful so early in her career at getting legislation passed that made a difference in her constituents' lives.  This bipartisan approach won her no political favors from Mr. Finneran, but they established Barbara as a leiglstor to be taken seriously.

Her colleagues took note.  After only three terms, Barbara was promoted over many long-time legislators to become Vice Chairman of the critical House Ways & Means Committee.  In that position, Barbara played a huge role in passing a balanced budget at a time when the Commonwealth's finances were disarray.  Working with colleagues from both parties, Barbara found a balanced solution that included painful spending cuts coupled with difficult but necessary revenue increases.  Barbara was never under illusion that either the spending cuts or the revenue increases would be popular -- but she just as when she stood up to Tom Finneran to do the right thing, again she stood up to criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike in order to bring sanity and restraint to the state budget.

It's easy for a politician to seek refuge in the extreme wing of his party, to demonize colleagues from the opposing party, and to declare fealty to abstract principles like never raising taxes or never working across the aisle.  But governing is serious business, one that requires our elected representatives to stand up to their own party and to be willing to work with their opponents. Throughout her career, Barbara has exemplified the very best qualities that we hope from our state representatives.  We hope that you will join us in voting for Barbara L'Italien on election day.

Bob and Annie Gilbert

Gray Road

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mitt Romney: Bad for Massachusetts, Bad for America

Since the first Presidential debate, Mitt Romney has been extolling his
record as Massachusetts Governor (from 2002- 2006). But an independent
study concluded that Massachusetts was among the lowest-performing states
during that period. Romney's failed policies resulted in an approval rating
of 34% when he left office! Contrary to Romney's promises, spending cuts
alone did not fix the state's economy, did not create jobs, did not protect
the middle class, and did not promote economic growth. Responding to these
draconian cuts, municipalities raised property taxes on average 24%.
Sweeping state fee increases further raised middle class taxes.

His promised "second to none in the history of the state" job creation
program was anemic. During his 4 years, Massachusetts nationally ranked 47
out of 50 for job growth, new job growth was less than 1%, 14,000
manufacturing jobs were lost, and unemployment remained significantly higher
than average.

His bipartisan claims similarly proved empty. He issued a whopping 800
legislative vetoes and had little involvement with even Republican state

During his last two years, Romney effectively quit his job in order to
pursue his Presidential ambitions. His more than 100 out-of-state trips cost
taxpayers some $200,000. More significantly, he had morphed from a
moderate to a very conservative Romney.

As Massachusetts residents, we have seen Romney up-close as a government
CEO. Mitt Romney was bad for Massachusetts in 2006. There is no reason to
believe that he will be any better for America in 2013.

Lois Karfunkel
John Zipeto
Andover, Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scott Brown on women's issues: not a moderate

Scott Brown claims to be a moderate Republican. However, I have found that
he says one thing, but his US Senate voting record suggests an entirely
different ideology. His nearly perfect voting record against women's health
care and equal pay suggests an allegiance to a right wing conservative
ideology that is at odds with the best interests of women in Massachusetts.

Scott Brown opposes the Affordable Care Act which provides for diagnostic
medical services for women, such as mammograms and cancer screening tests.
While Scott Brown believes that we need to get big government out of our
lives, he is ready to impose government restrictions on extremely personal
and private decisions women make every day regarding birth control and
family planning. Scott Brown voted to allow employers authority to
arbitrarily restrict health care coverage, including birth control and
family planning services. Scott Brown has also voted against a bill that
would support equal pay for equal work.

Scott Brown, along with a majority of the republican members of the US House
of Representatives and US Senate, wants to turn back the clock on the
advancement of women's rights that has been achieved over the past 50 years.
In my view, Scott Brown has not voted as a moderate in the US Senate on a
wide range of issues from Wall Street to health care to the environment.
Please look beyond the "nice guy" image that his campaign is carefully
promoting for candidate Brown. His past votes in the US Senate demonstrate
his lack of commitment to issues that are important in Massachusetts.

Patricia Commane
7 Hall Ave
Andover, MA

Monday, October 15, 2012

In the Merrimack Valley, Obama has more donors, Romney more money

In Andover, Obama raised $90,527 and Romney raised $77,700.

“Even though Andover is typically Republican it is a testament to the work that the democrats have done at the grassroots level,” Padova said.”You work hard and generally you get the pay. That is why I think they bucked the trend here in Andover.”

In the Merrimack Valley, Obama has more donors, Romney more money

Friday, October 5, 2012

Andover DTC Supports Elizabeth Warren in Lowell

L to R - Gail Mann, Cindy Ade, Jessica Anthony, Tom Fedak and Pat Commane

Romney Finally Recalls He Was Once Governor Of Massachusetts

During the first Presidential debate, I was surprised to see Mitt Romney extol his record as a former single term Governor of this Commonwealth—especially when during much of the past 18 months of this campaign he mentioned the word “Massachusetts” only when unavoidable. Perhaps this former reluctance is because his record as CEO of this state resulted in an approval rating of only 34% when he left office.

This loss of public support can be attributed to the disparity between Romney’s grand economic promises and his record as Governor. Despite coming into office in 2002 professing that his jobs program would be “second to none in the history of the state” jobs program -- much as he now touts that he will create 12 million new jobs -- Romney’s record as a job creator was dismal. During Romney’s 4 year tenure: 1) “…the pace of job growth significantly lagged the nation’s.” [Boston Globe, 9/6/12 at p.A-1.] He created only 31,000 jobs, a 1% rate increase verses the nation’s 5% during the same time period [Globe, 9/6/12]; 2) he oversaw anemic job recovery, the state ranking 47th for job growth [Globe, 10/1/12, confirming this ranking as “accurate”]; 3) new jobs increased a mere 0.8%, the 4th weakest rate in the nation [Globe 5/31/12, citing to Moody’s]; and 14% of manufacturing jobs were lost, making Massachusetts “among the lowest-performing states in the country.” [Globe 5/31/12 citing to A. Sum Northeastern U. study.] Sure seems like Romney’s record as a “job creator” (without even considering his Bain Capital tenure job losses) is just campaign fluff. 

Other economic indicators for financial recovery similarly were disappointing. Unemployment remained higher than the nations’ average, and would have been more so if some 3.5% of workers had not left the Commonwealth to find jobs elsewhere [Globe, 9/5/12]. To create a “balanced” budget, Romney cut state aid to cities and towns, including 4% cuts for schools. This approach to education negatively impacted on the quality of the Commonwealth’s public schools, a main attraction to business growth and stimulus. If Massachusetts’ schools were doing well, as Romney now claims, this was not attributable to the Governor’s support. Romney’s other actions effectively raised taxes on the beleaguered middle class. Not unexpectedly, after the cuts in state aid, financially stressed municipalities responded to the reduced revenue by raising property taxes, on average, about 24%. [Globe, 9/6/12]. The middle-class also paid more “taxes” through sweeping increases in government fees (such as the cost of marriage licenses). [Globe, 9/6/12] If these actions foreshadow Romney’s current plan to “lower taxes” for all (unclear due to his lack of specifics on his proposed economic plan) , the middle class should expect to bear the brunt of the pain.

Finally, Romney claims that he worked effectively with the Democratic controlled legislature, and can do so again. Romney fails to remind voters that he issued some 800 vetoes as Governor, nearly all of which were then overturned. [NPR, 6/13/12] Also, those were different pre- Tea Party times when one party’s leader did not proclaim that his first goal was to defeat the incumbent president and not to govern on behalf of the nation, a promise backed up by constant filibustering and partisan obstruction. 

What should we conclude from Romney’s record as Massachusetts Governor? Reality as shown by the economic facts should make voters question hard Romney’s self-promotion as a turnaround expert and sunny promises of millions of new jobs. Economists tell us that recovery from the “Great Recession”, based on historical experience, will be slow and difficult. We should be wary of claimed quick fixes by political salespeople, especially when not backed up by specifics.

Lois Karfunkel
22 Orchard Crossing
Andover, MA