Friday, December 13, 2013

Open Letter to Boston Councilor-Elect Michelle Wu

Michelle -

Since learning a few days ago of your intention to vote for Bill Linehan for City Council President I have struggled to identify just why I am so utterly and deeply disappointed in you and your decision.

Part of my disappointment is that your support of Bill gives him a key, deciding vote. This means that no matter how much you try to distance yourself from Bill's policy positions, you will provide him with a position of power and reward him for his hurtful, racist, and anti-inclusive record over the course of his career.

Part of my disappointment is that when I backed you for the city council, invited you into my home, supported your Ward 3 endorsement, and donated money to your campaign, I did so - and actively encouraged my friends to do so - because I believed that you would be a voice of inclusion and new ideas for the Council.  I relate enormously to your personal story and to the vision you outlined for what you could bring to city hall. I believe the Council needs more people like yourself with diverse backgrounds that can influence the old ways of doing things and bring in fresh, invigorating ideas and make our government work better for the entire city of Boston.

Part of my disappointment is that your vote for Bill Linehan as Council President is a clear vote against my family.  To call this simply a "procedural" vote is completely disrespectful and is a troubling indication that you do not fully appreciate the hurt and harm this Councilor has caused to countless Bostonians.

But perhaps the biggest part of my disappointment is that before you have even been sworn in you are choosing to vote against the values that I voted for you to represent at City Hall. I moved to Boston from a part of the country where I knew that the vast majority of my elected officials did not share my values. It was a terrible, infuriating, vulnerable feeling. One of the reasons I have chosen to make my home in Boston is because of the values this city has grown to embrace, and the progress we continue to make in becoming an increasingly diverse and welcoming community. Your vote represents the values I came to Boston to escape, and has brought back those terrible, infuriating, and vulnerable feelings.

You have disappointed me in a very personal way, and I urge you to reconsider before you take office and cast this vote in January.

Thank you,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Boston City Council vote - please call Michelle Wu today

(I'm posting here an email that I sent to friends on Tuesday, Dec. 10 as news was beginning to break about Michelle Wu's intention to vote for Bill Linehan.)

Some of you may have heard the surprising news in today's paper that Bill Linehan is poised to become the next City Council president, with the swing vote being provided by Councilor-elect Michelle Wu.  The Globe reported it today.

I hope you will join me in reaching out to Michelle to communicate your disappointment that this vote is her first action as a newly elected City Councillor.   617-652-0136 or

This past election was exciting for so many reasons, as Bostonians voted on the direction we wanted to see our city go. I was thrilled to support Michelle in this historic election and have her join Ayanna Pressley as the second woman on the body of 13.  Her voice, unique personal story and leadership skills are key attributes that we want on the Council, and I believed that Michelle would be joining the progressive coalition on the council to move our city forward on issues we care about.

That's why I simply cannot understand why she has decided to join the "Old Boys" on the council in supporting Bill Linehan for Council President. 

While we are a mayor driven city, the Council President is important and could be even more important under a new mayor: the President has the power to decide what issues come before the body for a vote.  He decides chairmanships for critical committees.  He sways votes on important issues.  And perhaps most important for me, he is a figure head for the City Council body, sending a message that the Council agrees and supports this person's leadership.  Bill Linehan does not represent me, nor do I think he represents the priorities all of us care so deeply about.

Many of you are familiar with these issues that arose during the Suzanne Lee campaign about Bill Linehan, but I'm including them below for your reference. 
Linehan supports the continued exclusion of LGBT groups from the St. Patrick's Day parade (from the South End News):
"The St. Patrick’s Day parade and its continued exclusion of gay and lesbian groups drew quite different responses from the two District 2 candidates. Linehan cited his lifelong participation in and attachment to the parade as a celebration of Boston history and Irish culture, and explained the exclusion of LGBT groups as being grounded in their being issue-oriented as opposed to being a social, school or neighborhood group. He said that the marshal of the parade said that if they started accepting position groups, it would open a floodgate that might include the KKK and skinheads wanting to march."

Linehan tried to change decades of precedence and take over the chairmanship of the St. Patrick's Day Breakfast from the State Senator from Southie, when Linda Dorecena Forry was elected.  (Quote from the Boston Globe):
“And I don’t change my position that it has always been someone from South Boston, but it hasn’t always been the senator. It’s the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. That’s the name of it. Just because she feels she should be the host doesn’t mean that will happen without negotiation. She’s not just going to proclaim that she’s the host without having a discussion with me.”

As chair of the Redistricting Committee, Linehan tried to remove Chinatown from his district after his close loss to Suzanne Lee in 2011. (From Yvonne Abraham in the Boston Globe):
Now, it just so happens that Linehan is chairman of the council’s Redistricting Committee, charged with drawing a new electoral map for the city. And it turns out his own District 2 has seen big electoral growth and that he has to move some voters out. So which three precincts does the councilor propose to jettison? Why, one in Dorchester, and two in which Lee thrashed him, including one in the heart of Chinatown.
Apparently impervious to appalling appearances, Linehan has sketched a map that would make it a pretty safe bet he won’t face a challenge like Lee’s again.
His proposal divides Chinatown, a largely Asian community with common interests, diluting it and making it politically irrelevant.
This is not the person I want representing the City as the City Council President.  He does not share my values.  Please join me in asking Michelle to reconsider her vote and spread the word to others to do the same.
Thank you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Women and the dream

With the historic celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington today, I've been enjoying seeing the stories of women's role (and exclusion) in the March.

This year is the first time I've heard about gospel singer Mahalia Jackson's influence in encouraging MLK to use the specific "I have a dream" language in his famous speech on the Washington mall that day.

Democracy Now interviewed now 90-year-old Gloria Richardson about her memories of women being censored from the March and key meetings.  Only one woman spoke from the podium that day and she herself was cut from the program after only saying "hello".

Bernardine Watson at the WaPo's She the People blog encourages her readers to rewrite women's roles in the civil right's movement back into history by highlighting a list of black women leaders who's stories are rarely told. 

As with any fight for equality and change in our country's history, the heroes are complicated.  And I'm grateful today not only for the powerful step forward our country took 50 years ago with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s heart changing speech, but also for the shoulders of the women giants he had to stand on to make it happen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Heading for the Hillz

Hillary and Obama meeting for lunch today!  Oh to be a fly on that wall...

Hillary's 2016 PAC team has added some impressive members from the Obama team.  This is looking less and less like a "shadow" PAC and more and more like a precursor for a legitimate presidential run!

E.J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post: Hillary Clinton and the quiet gender revolution. “Clinton's gender is certainly relevant to the desire of so many who want her nominated. She would, indeed, appeal to women of diverse political views who want to break the presidential glass ceiling. But support for Clinton has at least as much to do with hard-core calculations that she could win because of her wide experience, her likely strength among working-class voters and her sheer endurance in the face of tests that few other politicians have had to confront.”

Hillary on the trail. The paid speech trail, that is.

Hillary's answer to the "has been" charge: In anticipation of attacks on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's age if she runs in 2016, Democrats are preparing a counterargument that "women of all ages will absolutely be inspired by" a Clinton candidacy. "I don't recommend that be the totality of her message or platform," Stephanie Cutter said, "but there's no way to hide that fact and it certainly shouldn't be discounted."

A fundraiser for the newly renamed Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation is set for August 23 in Bridgehampton. The event is being billed as a 'very special dinner with President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton' on Aug. 23 in Bridgehampton. It's a cocktails event followed by dinner, 'culminating in an intimate conversation with the Clintons where they will take questions from guests.' It's one of the first events in which the two will speak together since Hillary Clinton left the State Department earlier this year, and falls during their vacation in the Hamptons. It also puts them before wide groups of donors."

On the lighter side, a sign she's willing to "cross the aisle"? Hillary takes on elephant poaching.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Boston Marathon - 100 days and 40 years

I stumbled on this video today via Upworthy and was struck by the timeliness.  The Boston marathon has been on my mind a lot this week, as we passed the 100th day since this year's bombings.

As fond as I am of the Boston marathon, I really loved seeing this clip and learning about the shocking, yet predictable, response that the Boston marathon race directors had in 1972 to the first woman running the race.  Tonight's TGIF toast goes out to Kathrine Switzer for breaking the gender barrier to this historic race!

Lipstick LobbyList 7.26.2013

Lena Dunham breaks it down in 140 characters or less why Anthony Weiner is not fit for public office: his abuse of power.  (left)

And on the more humorous side, the WSJ imagines Hillary and Huma emailing each other about this past week.  And yes - why isn't Huma the one running for office?!?!

The NYT has an excellent deep dive on the gender dynamics of choosing the next Federal Reserve Chairman...or perhaps Chairwoman...?  The two top contenders are Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s vice chairwoman, and Larry Summers. From the article: "But the choice also is roiling Washington because it is reviving longstanding and sensitive questions about the insularity of the Obama White House and the dearth of women in its top economic policy positions. Even as three different women have served as secretary of state under various presidents and growing numbers have taken other high-ranking government jobs, there has been little diversity among Mr. Obama’s top economic advisers." 

Gabby Giffords takes to the pages of Vanity Fair to thank Michael Bloomberg for his continued fight for smart gun control policy.

Sam Power is one step closer to becoming ambassador to the United Nations, clearing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.

Several Massachusetts women legislators are cleverly leveraging the opportunity of the minimum wage debate to discuss languishing pay equity legislation.  Thank you to Sen. Spilka and Sen. Chandler for introducing the measure.  (via State House News)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

National Weiner Day

As heart breaking as this news is for the ever fabulous Huma Abedin, the long time aide to Hillary, I couldn't help but notice that the new developments with Anthony Weiner sexting post-resignation from Congress happened on National Hot Dog Day....