In an editorial yesterday, the Quincy Patriot-Ledger noted that upcoming elections are an opportunity to register dissatisfaction with the current leadership. "We hope that those who profess to be truly angry about the current state of affairs don’t miss the chance to puts words into actions."

However they point out that even in this year of supposed voter anger, many incumbents still do not face challengers. "The dearth of competition in elections has hurt Massachusetts for a long time. While we don’t expect incumbents to consider it much of a problem, the rest of us should contemplate why it is, even in a year of great voter dissatisfaction, so few people aspire to serve in the state Legislature."

That makes it even more important for people to show up and vote in districts where there is more than one person on the ballot. To find out which districts have a competitive race, click here
 
 
In an op-ed in the Boston Herald last week, Michael Graham reports that the Quincy City Council, by a unanimous vote, has approved a "crash tax," meaning people will be charged for crashing their vehicles on city streets, in cases where the driver acted “negligently, recklessly or maliciously.”  And “the fire chief is counting on $250,000 in revenue from such fees to balance this year’s $17.8 million fire department budget.”

Maybe I'm cynical, but I think it's a really bad idea to give public officials a financial incentive for citizens to crash their cars. Will they intervene as quickly when they see a driver weaving in and out of traffic, or wait for the driver to crash so they can collect more revenue for the city? And who gets to decide what constitutes negligence, recklessness or maliciousness? Oh yeah - the same people who stand to benefit from that call. I sincerely hope other cities do not follow Quincy's lead on this one.
 
 
The Boston Globe editorializes today that it was not appropriate for outgoing State Auditor Joe DeNucci to grant 5% raises to employees retroactive to July 1. "DeNucci is clearly taking care of his own, at the expense of taxpayers, as he goes out the door. That’s disappointing. It’s also disappointing that three of five candidates who are seeking to replace him as the state’s fiscal watchdog are unwilling to call him out."   Democrat Mike Lake and Republican Kamal Jain would rescind the raises; Democrats Suzanne Bump (who was endorsed by DeNucci) and Guy Glodis and Republican Mary Connaughton all said they would review pay and staffing levels once elected, but would not call them for to be rescinded now.
 
 
Candidate for State Auditor Mary Connaughton issued this statement yesterday, saying if elected, she would introduce legislation to grant authority to the State Auditor to audit the Massachusetts State legislature, which apparently thinks such scrutiny is beneath them, even though they spent $60 million on their operations in 2009. We think this legislation is long overdue and if Ms. Connaughton (or any future auditor) introduces it, Voters Count will strongly urge its members to pressure legislators to support it!
 
 
From Sunday's Boston Herald:  "But wait . . . the pay is just the start of the reprobate reps’ brazen rip-off of the taxpayers. How about the per diems - they get paid for coming into work, anywhere from $10 a day to $110. Take state Rep. Mike Rodrigues, the hack caught stocking up on booze at the New Hampshire Liquor Store last year after voting to put a sales tax on your alcohol purchases, but not his."
 
 
From the New York Times: "There’s a class war coming to the world of government pensions. The haves are retirees who were once state or municipal workers. Their seemingly guaranteed and ever-escalating monthly pension benefits are breaking budgets nationwide. The have-nots are taxpayers who don’t have generous pensions. Their individual retirement accounts have taken a real beating in recent years and are not guaranteed. And soon, many of those people will be paying higher taxes or getting fewer state services as their states put more money aside to cover those pension checks.
“We have to take this on, if there is any way of bringing fiscal sanity to our children,” said former Gov. Richard Lamm of Colorado, a Democrat. “The New Deal is demographically obsolete. You can’t fund the dream of the 1960s on the economy of 2010.”
 
 
According to the Boston Herald, until September of last year when they were audited by State Auditor Joe DeNucci's office, MassDevelopment (a quasi-state agency that oversees real estate and economic development) was paying thousands of dollars in severance packages to departing workers, "with one employee paid $12,000 after only eight months on the job." 
 
 
According to today's Globe, fourteen cities and towns that have joined the state health insurance plan have saved a total of $30 million in the first year alone, according to a report by the Boston Foundation.  "Going into the GIC has saved my city $3 million,’’ said Mayor Robert Dolan of Melrose, which joined the commission last year. “It’s the real deal.’’ Other communities cited in the report include Quincy, which says it saved $10 million its first year in the state system; Weymouth, $6 million; Watertown, $2.4 million; and Millis, $425,000.