Conduct ‘Unbecoming’ in Mass. AG’s Race

August 28, 2014

Today’s local dailies have very different takes on the political rumpus du jour: Attorney General hopeful Warren Tolman (D-Teamsters AFL-CIO) calling AG hopeful Maura Healey (D-Hoopsters Teamsters) “unbecoming” for hectoring him about his lobbying work. [Apologies for the mixup.]

The Boston Globe is on the story like Brown on Williamson, starting Page One Metro.

 

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Tolman’s moonwalking, of course, accomplished nothing with the umbrage-industrial complex, exemplified by this response:

Barbara Lee, of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which is dedicated to getting more women involved in politics, tweeted: “Code for close race = #unbecoming #unladylike #cold #bossy. Men always try to knock women off pedestal[s] like this in #mapoli and beyond.”

 

#Seriously? #Whatpedestal?

On the op-ed page of the stately local broadsheet (yikes! can we still use that term?), columnist Joan Vennochi tried to inject some reality into the conversation.

Unbecoming issue in the AG race

ATTORNEY GENERAL candidate Maura Healey was ruthlessly pushing Democratic rival Warren Tolman to explain what she describes as his record as a lobbyist, when Tolman, who contends he never lobbied anyone, replied: “Maura, it’s just unbecoming. I’m surprised you continue to push these issues rather than talk about the issues people care about.”

Tolman said he’s sorry now. But before he apologized, the word “unbecoming” triggered an urgent fundraising letter from Marty Walz, a Healey backer and president of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “It means unattractive, indecorous. It’s not a word you hear men on Beacon Hill use about each other,” wrote Walz.

True enough. And, with Tolman in the lead in a tight, increasingly nasty race, it’s no surprise the Healey campaign would jump on her opponent’s use of it. After all, the word “unbecoming” holds a special place in Massachusetts politics. But overplaying it is a mistake. It didn’t help the last female candidate who tried.

 

Crosstown at the Boston Herald, an editorial entirely underplayed it.

Time to get real

How did it come to this? How did two really smart contenders for attorney general, two people who have already served the public and seem committed to the notion of public service, get caught up in a meaningless war of words?

Warren Tolman, a former state senator (and a sometime writer for these pages), took issue in a Tuesday debate with his Democratic primary opponent Maura Healey, a former assistant attorney general, when she criticized his work as a lobbyist.

“You go down this path, Maura, it’s just unbecoming,” he said.

Well, you would have thought from the reaction of the sisterhood that the man had just suggested she tie on an apron and return to the kitchen.

 

Right. Better both candidates should get back to business.


Herald Takes Dig at Globe State House Digs

August 10, 2014

Last week, as you splendid readers might – or, more likely, might not – recall, the hardreading staff noted the yin and yang of State House renovation coverage in the local dailies. Today comes the latest installment in the form of this piece by Boston Herald political scribe Matt Stout.

Treat the Press

Renovation 
costs for Globe 
at State House near $30G

New six-figure “blast” windows, $120,000 in floor repairs, $26,000 to move wall sockets because of “revised furniture layouts” — the extra $2.3 million spent to repair the State House’s gubernatorial suite ran the gamut of changes.ASTU2274.JPG

Count The Boston Globe among those added costs.

Work connected to the broadsheet’s fourth-floor State House office is sprinkled throughout the project’s so-called change orders, thanks in part to its place in the building’s cozy southwest corner.

 

Mee-ow. The final tally? “All told, the state credited $29,550 in unforeseen work in connection with the paper’s digs.”

Funny, but that fact went unmentioned in both Akilah Johnson’s report last week (which was entirely uncritical) and Joan Vennochi’s follow-up column the next day (which was reasonably critical of the “museum quality” makeover).

Big deal, you say? Thirty grand is lunch money compared to the total $11.3 million tab? Just sour grapes on the part of the Herald?

Roll your own.

Last graf of Stout’s piece:

The Herald’s fifth-floor office was unaffected by the monthslong construction. (Though, if anyone over there is reading, our A/C has been making weird noises.)

 

Buck up, Matt – summer’s almost gone.


Shirley the Herald’s Kidding About Grossman’s Mom

August 5, 2014

From our You Never Call, You Never Write desk

There’s been a lot of hoopla about the Super PAC called Mass Forward, which has been ad-whacking gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley (D-The Weeds) on behalf of gubernatorial hopeful Steve Grossman (D-Everywhere Else). State lawmakers passed a law last week forcing independent expenditure groups to disclose their donors, and the latest ad from Mass Forward does.

 

 

Freeze-frame with disclosure:

 

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Of course the name that jumps right out at you – and the local dailies – is Shirley Grossman. Subsequently this Matt Stout piece appeared in the Boston Herald delivered to the hardreading staff this morning.

A woman with the same name as the mother of state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman is among the top donors to a Super PAC backing his candidacy.

But the Grossman campaign is refusing to confirm whether the Shirley Grossman listed as a leading contributor to the Mass Forward Super PAC is Grossman’s mother, whose name is also Shirley Grossman . . .

Grossman’s campaign acknowledged that the candidate’s mother has the same name, but otherwise declined comment.

 

But here’s what’s on the Herald website (and in later editions of the paper) now, complete with That’s Just So Mean! photo:

Steve Grossman’s mom a top donor for Super PAC

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State Treasurer Steve Grossman’s 92-year-old mom is a leading donor to a super PAC backing his gubernatorial campaign, the candidate confirmed last night.

“I can tell you, having had the first and only conversation I’ll have with my mother about her contribution this afternoon, she said, ‘Yeah, it was me. I do what I believe is appropriate with my money.’ I said you’re entitled to do what you want, I don’t want to know anything else.”

Grossman said he made the call after donor names were released in a PAC ad, and news broke on Bostonherald.com that his mother was a donor. He said neither he nor his campaign aides were previously aware of her donation, which prompted their cryptic response yesterday, when they would only confirm that Shirley Grossman is his mother’s name. He said he didn’t ask how much she donated.

 

Crosstown, the Boston Globe had the bright idea of going straight to the source from the start, resulting in this Akilah Johnson piece:

New law identifies Super PAC donors

A new state campaign finance law forced the release of the top five donors to a political action committee supporting state Treasurer Steve Grossman’s gubernatorial bid. Among them: his mother.

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“I’m not young. I’m old, and I haven’t been able to do anything for the campaign, and I believe in Steve,” Shirley Grossman said in an interview. “I thought it over. I’m 92 years old. What could I do? I can’t go house to house.”

So, she decided to write a check to the Mass Forward political action committee.

On Monday, she wouldn’t say how much she had contributed, describing it only as “a lot of money.”

 

The moral of this story: Call your (or someone else’s) mother.