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....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lipstick LobbyList 7.23.2013

Massachusetts State Senate Prez Therese Murray features in the "Women Up" column of the Boston Business Journal.  This question was particularly awesome:
Did you ever experience discrimination in what was considered a male-dominated field?
"I still go to events or meetings, particularly out of state or in a place where people don’t know me, where they will turn to the male staffer next to me, shake their hand and say, 'Senator,' or 'President.' That continues to happen."
The New York Times has a profile of  Silda Wall Spitzer as the real life “Good Wife”:
"Much has changed for Ms. Wall Spitzer, a former corporate lawyer, since her husband resigned in 2008. She has grown more independent, relishing a return to her corporate career and working 60-hour weeks at a private equity firm where she helps guide investments in clean energy. She oversees her children’s charity, generationOn, which earlier this year honored Chelsea Clinton, and has pursued new business ventures, including an e-commerce Web site, New York States of Mind, that highlights products from businesses in the state."
With Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer doing well in recent polls, WaPo’s She the People Blog asks: “Could a former stripper be elected president?”

Ann Friedman writes for Elle magazine a profile of freshman Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual member of Congress. At only 36 years old, Kyrsten is changing the face of Congress and blazing a new path for women in office.  From the article: "12 of the last 18 presidents kicked off their political careers before age 35. Sinema is part of the first generation of women to follow that timetable, and at 36 has already been in public office for almost a decade. Consider this: At her age, Nancy Pelosi was 11 years away from winning her first election, Hillary Clinton 17."

The Atlantic has a great overview of recent campaign ads that feature male politicians in the kitchen. It’s great to see some of my favorite Massachusetts women and organizations getting some air time on this topic (Barbara Lee Family Foundation, former Massachusetts state treasurer Shannon O’Brien, and the Center for Women in Politics and Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston).

The special election primary date is set for the 5th Congressional seat recently vacated by now Senator Ed Markey: October 15th. The general election will be on December 10th. In related (& exciting!) news, Melrose state Senator Katherine Clark hosted her official campaign kick-off on Saturday. Katherine is facing off against two Democratic state Senate colleagues, William Brownsberger and Karen Spilka, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and state Rep. Carl Sciortino.

Boards Snap Up Female CFOs  "Female chief financial officers may be relatively few in number, but they are trumping their male peers by a wide margin in at least one career achievement: winning outside board seats. Women account for just 12% of CFOs at the 500 large public companies tracked by executive-recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International. But more than half of those women serve as directors at another company.  That makes female CFOs about three times as likely to serve on an outside board as their far-more-numerous male counterparts. CFOs rarely serve on their own company’s board, in part because they are considered to be at the board’s beck and call as part of their regular job."
Guilty Pleasure: Emily Nussbaum in the New Yorker on Sex and the City

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Born to Run

It's great to see some women with political ambition in the news this past week.

First up, Stephanie Schriock.  Politico has a great profile of EMILY's list head Stephanie Schriock, who is considering running for U.S. Senate in Montana to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Max Baucus.  I always love to see fellow Democratic women from the "flyover" states run for higher office. Stephanie is a perfect example. From the profile:
“I love Montana, it is my home and it owns my heart, and the honest to God truth is this has been something I’ve wanted to think about,” said Schriock, who isn’t married but has a longtime boyfriend and likes to spend her free time fishing, kayaking and hiking. “I am very proud of my home state and I do hope someday to work for the people of Montana.”
Sandra Fluke is keeping her name in the mix by co-authoring an Op-Ed in the LA Times Monday, "Women to L.A. City Hall: Remember us?".  Unbelievably, LA currently has no women elected to city government.  Sadly, this trend is very familiar as Boston currently only has one woman on the City Council out of 13 councilors.

Wendy Davis is wisely riding the wave of national attention (and the fundraising this brings) from her brave filibuster in Texas a few weeks ago with her own Op-Ed in the Washington Post.  She makes a reasoned and thoughtful case for access to good women's health services, and at the same time boasts some Texan pride:
"Texas really is the greatest state in the greatest nation. Texans — and women all over the country — deserve leaders that care, that listen and that work to protect their interests. The people’s filibuster demonstrated that Texans — and women everywhere — are ready and willing to fight back."
I adore Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and think she is doing absolutely amazing work in her relentless, yet smart approach to pushing her legislation for a military sexual assault process reform.  She has proven this week to have the skills to secure much needed bi-partisan support with Senators Paul and Cruz adding their names as co-sponsors.  Gillibrand is a woman to watch for the White House for sure!

And honorable mention to the women who considered a run for higher office, but chose not to run:
  • Montana state insurance commissioner Monica Lindeen for the U.S. Senate seat and
  • Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for Illinois Governor.
I'm keeping my eyes on these ladies, as I hope to see more from them both in the future!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Progesterone Girl

Happy 60th birthday, Martha Coakley!

I will be the first to admit that when I saw the headline in the Globe a few weeks ago that Attorney General Martha Coakley is considering a run for Massachusetts governor next year, I was not immediately jumping with excitement.

And I don't think I was the only woman-who-loves-to-support-Democratic-women-candidates who felt this way. Maybe it's campaign fatigue from this ruthless series of special elections we find ourselves in in Massachusetts.  Maybe we're still a little tender from the Scott Brown victory in 2010.  Maybe it's because several strong candidates are already in the race.

Sigh. Or maybe it's because I'm too big of a girl and don't want to face another loss.

Then former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced he's running for NYC comptroller.  And with all of the coverage of male "comeback" stories (or as Joanna Weiss so aptly called them "the testosterone boys"), something struck and I thought: "Why the hell isn't she running?"

She had no scandal, just a poorly run and ill-timed campaign.  She's done an excellent job as AG with an impressive record on DOMA and human trafficking.  And she's sat out two US Senate races.  Most men would have declared by now for the next race.

So if Martha has the progesterone to go "ovaries out" and run for governor, I say go for it.  Let's see her put her best (stylish heeled) foot forward.  While she remained coy this weekend at the Democratic State Convention about her intentions to run, she showed some much needed spunk and brought a strong show of support.  Much like the Boston mayoral race, I'm both exhausted and excited to see how the 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial field will shake out.  But I do believe that we can benefit competitive primaries and having a woman (or women!) in the field makes the discussion all the more rich. 

PS - cheers to EMILY's List for helping to ensure that the Massachusetts field has a strong woman contender in the race.  In addition to Martha, they have identified another strong candidate in Juliette Kayyem, a national security expert  and Boston Globe columnist, to run for governor if Martha chooses to opt out.

(image source:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lipstick LobbyList 7.12.2013

Thirty years since Sally Ride broke the space glass ceiling to became the first woman in space, it so exciting to see NASA have four women (50%!) in this year's astronaut class.

The New Republic has an interesting look at the gender politics of reporting mega-donations from husbands and wives.  Spoiler alert: women are often minimized as the "mega" part of the couple.

Two of my favorite actress, with two very different responses to the label "feminist":
  1. Amy Poehler in Time Out New York:  "So the answer is: Yes, I consider myself a feminist, and it informs my work only in that it’s just who I am, in the same way that I’m a woman, or I’m 5'2" or whatever. I was lucky that I came through a system that had many people who did much more hard work and road-clearing before I got there."
  2. Susan Sarandon in the Guardian: "I think of myself as a humanist because I think it's less alienating to people who think of feminism as being a load of strident bitches and because you want everyone to have equal pay, equal rights, education and healthcare.  It's a bit of an old-fashioned word. It's used more in a way to minimise you."
Amy - I'm with you on this one!

EMILY's List adds an eighth endorsement to their list of the "Year of the Woman Mayor," Marilyn Strickland, for her reelection for mayor of Tacoma, WA.  Marilyn joins Boston candidate Charlotte Golar Richie and NYC candidate Christine Quinn on their list of endorsements.

And finally, yes, I know this has gone viral all week, but it was definitely worthy. Dustin Hoffman on "becoming a woman" for his role in Tootsie:
"I think I'm an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen [as Tootsie] and I know that if I met myself at a party, I know that I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fulfill, physically, the demands that we're brought up to think that women have to have in order for us to ask them out. There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Let's hear it for the boys

It's been a year since Anne-Marie Slaughter published her article in the Atlantic and four months since the release of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.  So it's refreshing to see several articles this past week from men who are trying to support their families and spouses "have it all".  We talk so much about the need for women to have a seat in the boardroom, yet we spend far too little time talking about making room for men at the child care table.

So let's hear for the boys and lean back to hear what they have to say.  After all, Sandberg tells us that the most important career decision a woman can make is who they will marry.

On Sunday, a male Facebook employee Tom Stocky wrote an incredibly honest and insightful post about his experience taking the full paternal leave that his company offers.  He writes:
"What I never got used to was the double-standard for fathers when it comes to childcare. I experienced it predominantly in three forms: (1) low expectations for fathers, (2) negative perceptions of working mothers, and (3) negative perceptions of 'non-working' fathers."
Stephen Marche takes to the pages of the Atlantic to write his own manifesto for families trying to "have it all" arguing that many career and child care decisions by couples are made by pure economics rather than gender role assumptions. It's a thoughtful addition to Slaughter and Sandberg in that he lays out the challenges facing men who take less "traditional" roles in their families.  I found it particularly resonating with me, as so many of my straight friends with kids have active and attentive fathers, while the mother has the more high-powered, more demanding, and often the more lucrative career.  His conclusion is spot on: "A conversation about work-life balance conducted by and for a small sliver of the female population only perpetuates the perception that these are women’s problems, not family ones."

I sincerely hope that more men will join Marche and Stocky in taking their company's full paternal leave or choosing to stay/work from home with the children.  While these articles are encouraging, men like this do remain the exception not the rule.  Stay-at-home dads are increasing at a sad rate. And men simply do not take the full paternal leave that their company policy allows.  Just as women need more female role models in top positions, men need to have more peers and leaders visibly choosing to take leadership roles in child rearing.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lipstick LobbyList 7.8.2013

My favorite t-shirts at the NYC Pride Parade this year (left) are back on sale.  Limited edition and a prize for any feminist t-shirt collection.  This one is going to have a special spot next to my Hillary '08 shirts.

Speaking of Hillary...Jennifer Graham on why Hillary's age won't be a problem in 2016.
A door opens in Texas with Governor Rick Perry announcing he won't run for re-election.  Will Wendy Davis run? (giddy with excitement!)

And speaking of Wendy Davis...old news, but still makes me laugh.  I loved the reviews of Wendy Davis' now famous pink tennis shoes.  The top rated review today: "Five Stars: Marathon shoe for marathon filibustering. The next time you have to spend 13 hours on your feet without food, water or bathroom breaks, this is the shoe for you. Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day."

An excellent and fair NYT op-ed this weekend about the now ousted Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard: "In Australia, Misogyny Lives On". While her term was rocky, it did have impact.  The last line in the article says it all:
And the robust discussion we had about archaic attitudes about women has mattered.  A 4-year-old girl from Canberra, when told that Australia had a new prime minister, said: “Really? What’s her name?”