The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Memorial Day weekend has come and gone....all sorts of activities including the wonderful Riverfest in Williamstown where I went for a raft ride on the Hoosic. Now I've ridden on rafts in Colorado and Wyoming....but I never went on the Hoosic....how dumb is that? I learned a lot from our wonderful guide. The saddest thing was seeing an old town dump from 30 years ago that is now exposed right on the river. It needs to be recapped but the question is, will that be enough? One of the best things about running for office is learning new things, listening to other's opinions and generally trying to keep an open mind. It's hard because the natural inclination is to convince the other person that you're right and that you know everything. And sometimes you're speaking to someone who themselves doesn't have an open mind, and so all you can do is listen. But it behooves one to try and figure out where the wisdom lies.....I am sad to say that today I imposed a new control on this blog. You have to be "registered" to comment. It's not my style, but I came home after a very long day on the campaign trail to find a snide remark awaiting me. I don't mind snide if the person says who he is. Then I can put it in context. But anonymous snide I don't need. This is a difficult enough task, "putting yourself out there" and generally allowing anyone in the world to have an opinion on you, that one doesn't need gratuitous taunts. So sorry everyone. This week is the Democratic State Convention. I've been to tons of them....but never as a candidate.....not sure what to expect in that all the focus will be on governor and lt. gov. but all the Senate candidates will be there trying to grab people's attention too. It should be quite the experience. We will have the famous oval "WARE" window stickers available and a few posters and will generally try to work the crowd. It helped that the Deval Patrick delegates had two meetings this weekend....one in North County and one in Pittsfield. It's a great group of people that I'm proud to be associated with. It always helps to learn people's names and faces before you get to the hubub of the convention floor. For some people this is a first convention so you want to make sure they have fun and feel part of what is going on. It's democracy in action with a large dose of chaos thrown in. I also just noticed that I missed my own "blogiversary." I began this blog last 16 May so happy versary to me. What a difference a year makes.....
Posted by Diva of Demographics at 6:48 AM
Thursday, May 25, 2006
It's one thing to be known as the "Blogger Candidate." It's another to have time to campaign and blog. Which is probably why very few do it! In reading my last post I realized that I had left out THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY PRESENT POLITICAL LIFE (with the exception of the undying support of my spouse and offspring....) I HAVE A CAMPAIGN MANAGER!!!! It is even cooler than having a big map of one's senate district. Joe Engwer is, simply put, the answer to a prayer. When you have a campaign manager, you call him/her up and ask them to do something....AND THEY DO IT!!!! Now it works both ways...he calls you up a lot and says "remember to do this" or "you have to take care of that" but that's helpful and it sure beats me bugging my husband when he's getting ready for a trial....I am also profoundly lucky that Joe has a WONDERFUL sense of humor and so he can keep me laughing when I need a chuckle. Which brings us to the intrigue. Of course the first aspect of "rumor, intrigue, innuendo and the usual campaign guff" (I'm not allowed to be salty in my speech/humor now that I'm a candidate....) was that a rumor was going around that I was paying Joe five times as much as I was. I WISH I could pay him that much. He's worth it. But no.....this is the children's crusade where we raise $ on a "just in time" basis....like the rent was due on the headquarters and VOILA! three of my college friends sent me enough scratch to pay for the rent and the security deposit. The more disturbing aspect of intrigue was the report I received last week while I was taking R & R in DC (for my future daughter-in-law's bridal shower....an event which couldn't have been better timed because I needed a break and I was somewhere where no one asked about prescription drug coverage and I didn't have to be a candidate...although I did meet someone at the shower who had a friend in Alford....but I digress.....) was that a "push poll" was being conducted in the District. A push poll is ostensibly a poll to ask voters what candidate they're supporting, but it also contains negative information about many of the other candidates so that the respondent is, perhaps, pushed to make a choice based on "information" received during the question. This poll had negative information on three of us and positive information on a fourth person. One never knows whether there was some third party involved, or the candidate didn't know it was happening or what. But it violates the ethics of the American Assocation of Political Consultants and hopefully it won't happen again. There was some other intrigue that we'll save for the book, but the intrigue is, to be perfectlyhonest, distracting, energy-draining and counterproductive. Hopefully there's just this little flurry and then we can go back to concentrating on a positive message for the voters. And speaking of "campaign trail" my "campaign trail mix" apparently can't be taken into the Convention Center because God forbid someone might eat so much of it that they don't want to purchase overpriced food from the DCU center (you can tell I'm not running for Mayor of Worcester.....) Foiled again!
Posted by Diva of Demographics at 8:10 AM
Thursday, May 18, 2006
or that some of us have been waiting for. The first candidate forum. I wouldn't say we went mano e mano since there probably wasn't a dime's worth of difference among our positions, but it was a good crowd (there may have even been two undecideds in the room, you never know...!) and it was a wonderful warmup to what will be a long and winding road to the nomination. Modesty prevents me from telling how well I did but suffice it to say I've been winnowed in. We sat up on a very crowded stage at the American Legion in Dalton and yours truly was literally "on the edge" (if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room!) and also had the distinction of getting to go FIRST for the opening and closing remarks and LAST for the one minute answers to the questions. They didn't rotate the one minute answers, so I was ALWAYS last and so the temptation would have been to say "me, too!" but of course the challenge was to reframe the issue each time with a bit different lens. So while the format wasn't perfect, the mental exercise it provided was probably worth it. The other highlight has been the article on the "Blogger Candidate" coming out in the Valley Advocate. The blogosphere is bouncing it around and talking about it. Andrew Varnon did a wonderful job with the piece and so he wins the award this week for MY NEW BEST FRIEND. And, oh yeah, Medicare D closed the open enrollment period on Monday and we're still standing. In fact, I witnessed an interesting phenomenon yesterday. The phone was QUIET. I sort of didn't know what to do.....and then I remembered that there are other people who actually don't have a phone growing out of their ear at work, and can catch up on long forgotten administrative tasks and can plan ahead. Who'd a thunk it? A new life. It may take me some time to adjust.
Posted by Diva of Demographics at 6:19 AM
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Bet you didn't know you could get cool maps at the Secretary of State's office. You might not even know that the S of S has a "Western" office in Springfield. It was actually my second visit. I once was there to file a friend's papers. Now I was filing my own. The experience will be part of the memoirs but suffice it to say that I filed signatures and an ethics statement and supposedly I'm ON THE BALLOT. Now, of course, since I'm the WORKING PERSON'S CANDIDATE (I actually work all day and campaign at night and on weekends....) I had to do this in the midst of attending a conference in Springfield....Efficiency at lunchtime as we say.....I also tried to book myself as the keynote speaker for the conference next year with the title of my speech being "Up From The Trenches" with Senator Margaret Johnson Ware. Well, they wanted someone funny, and I am that....you never know. But let's start at the beginning. Yesterday, I worked all day in Pittsfield and then drove to Lenox for a 5:30 meeting with the Lenox DTC. The only good thing about having it at the same time as a kickoff event for one of my opponents was that at least his supporters weren't there. But hardly anyone else was either although the people who were there were quite wonderful. Then on to Becket. GREAT crowd. Appeared with another opponent. On to Lanesborough Town Meeting. I have to admit I left at 9:30 or so when they were on Article 9 and they had 31 more to go. They were actually going to go faster, but since I'd been up since 5:30 it seemed like the right choice. And then the temperature indicator on my car says its overheating on the way home. Except it wasn't.....but that scared me so I needed to change cars today. But the dogs ran away from my husband at the track, so I was late for the above-referenced conference.....I DONT THINK THE OTHER CANDIDATES HAVE TO PUT UP WITH ALL OF THIS!!!! I literally have to have a "staffer" to tell me if my tag is tucked in at the back of my dress and if I have a run in my stocking. And then someone to tell me where my car keys and cell phones (I have to have two....one for work and one for personal...) are. This is HAHD WUUK as Betsy Ware would have said when she was four.....but I'm LOVING IT!!!
Posted by Diva of Demographics at 8:24 PM
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Well, it seems I'm going to have to be a LOT more responsible about this blog. Now one of the State Reps says he's reading it and so I have a responsibility to keep everyone posted. So, how about if we start with this: In Plainfield, they DONT know where the bodies are buried. One of the problems of living in an old New England town is that sometimes records are lost or unreadable or not accurate. And it turns out (please don't quote me because this is NOT an area of my expertise!) that the cemetery records in one of the main cemeteries are inaccurate, and so to compensate for that, they've been burying people on the outer reaches of the real estate just so they don't "run into" anyone. Well, the outer reaches are all filled up and we have to have a moratorium. Anyone willing to pay for a sonar detector should contact the cemetary commissioners. Condo conversions are also being considered. Seriously folks, it was a wonderful afternoon. The people of Plainfield are committed to their community and are willing to sit for an almost inestimable amount of time on not very comfortable furniture to make sure the place is run right. They have hardworking volunteers in town government and Thomas Jefferson would have been proud to be a part of their town meeting. But it is true that at this time, they don't know where the bodies are buried.....Meanwhile in Ashfield, you have to have even more stamina than in Plainfield. You start at 10AM, take a lunch break at 1PM and keep going. In both communities, the fate and future of the Mohawk Regional School district was the main topic of discussion. In both towns, the final votes supporting the schools was not particularly close but the debate before the votes was intense, respectful and impassioned. There were at least as many people present in Ashfield as we get in Williamstown (with the exception of the famous waterline meeting that pulled 1,000+) so that's commendable considering that they have a smaller population. The relatively new Mohawk superintendent, Michael Buonocanti (my apologies if my spelling is off -- especially because Mike's brother is STEVE who is a State Senator..!) had to speak to three town meetings in one day, and had just finished six others within the last week or so. The fact that he could still keep his cool in Plainfield is a tribute to his stamina and commitment to his job. There are no easy answers, but I have a much better handle on the school building/funding issues in these communities than I did on Friday. Now Lenox was a whole different story....and yet it wasn't. The selectmen held onto their health insurance by 15 votes.....it is a comment on the place that health insurance plays in all our lives that this was a heated (but again respectful) discussion. A few years ago, the costs and availability of health insurance weren't much on people's radar screens. We now have the "haves" and "have nots" and the costs are exhorbitant. It will be interesting to see what effect the new health insurance reform legislation has on these discussions. Will the cities and towns actually be able to control some of their costs? It is a good thing that people who don't live in a town really can't jump up and participate in someone else's town meeting. I am a former selectman and I do health insurance counseling. I had LOTS of thoughts I could have shared. But I sat quietly in my seat and whispered to my neighbor. But I also learned a tremendous amount. Lenox also passed the CPA that night....it still has to appear on the ballot, but I was pleased to see the discussion. And their effort to allow single family residences to add "in law" apartments is commendable in a community where affordable housing is almost nonexistent. One of the reasons that my family moved to MA is that we loved the idea of the traditional New England town meeting and I have yet to be disappointed when watching this time-honored version of democracy in action. I hope no one ever tries to convert THAT to cyberspace!
Posted by Diva of Demographics at 8:31 AM