Reporter’s Notebook: Pope’s Hill group to host debate on ballot questions

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Oct. 20, 2010

The Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association is hosting a debate next week on three ballot questions voters will decide when they head to the polls in less than two weeks.

If approved by voters, Question 1 would eliminate the sales tax on alcohol, restoring an exemption on beer, wine and liquor that had been in place until 2009. Question 2 attempts to repeal Chapter 40B, a law dealing with affordable housing. Question 3 aims to reduce the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent.

Opponents of Questions 1 and 3 say approval of those ballot questions would blast massive holes in the state’s budget, which is already struggling under the strain of the recession. Supporters say approval of the questions will funnel money back into taxpayers’ pockets and boost the economy with job growth.
Supporters of Chapter 40B say it’s a critical tool for increasing affordable housing production in the suburbs while critics fighting to repeal the statute say the law forces unwanted development and has helped developers reap profits.

Two local writers will face off over the questions. In support of the ballot questions is Garrett Quinn of Boston.com who has also written for RedMassGroup.com and Wonkette.com.

Yawu Miller is the project director for “One Massachusetts,” an advocacy group, and writes for the Bay State Banner. He will be arguing against the questions.

The showdown is set for next Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center.
According to a Suffolk University/7News poll released last week, 46 percent of voters support eliminating the alcohol tax, while 47 percent oppose it. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.
Forty-nine percent of voters said they opposed Question 3, while 44 percent said they were in favor and 6 percent are undecided.

In a State House News Service poll released in September, Question 2 was losing by a 36-54 percent margin. Ten percent were undecided.

Brown backs Brennan in Southie; anti abortiongroup behind Collins

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown this week threw his support behind Patrick Brennan, the Republican candidate running to replace retiring state Rep. Brian Wallace.

Wallace’s seat covers South Boston and parts of Dorchester. Brown, a Wrentham Republican, won 54 percent of the vote in the Fourth Suffolk District in the special January election to replace the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.

“Voters of the Fourth Suffolk District and across Massachusetts want political balance in state government, and that’s why I am endorsing Patrick Brennan as the next state representative from South Boston and Dorchester,” Brown said in a statement. “I am confident Patrick will fight for more jobs and lower taxes, and as a CPA he understands that government cannot spend more than it takes in. I am proud to support his bid.”

Brennan was born in Worcester and spent some time in New Hampshire before recently moving to South Boston. He is the chair of the Ward 6 Republican Committee.

Separately, the political action committee of the top antiabortion group in Massachusetts is backing Democratic candidate Nick Collins.

Collins, who won a four-way Democratic primary in September, is one of three candidates in Suffolk County the Massachusetts Citizens for Life PAC (Political Action Committee) is endorsing. He worked for Joseph Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign and as an aide to state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston).
The other candidates are Edward Coppinger, a West Roxbury Democrat running to replace Michael Rush in the House, and Readville’s incumbent state Rep. Angelo Scaccia, also a Democrat.
The group also “recommends” state Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty (D-Chelsea) for re-election.

More Fifth Suffolk crossfire

One candidate is accusing the other of having a “Rose Garden strategy,” referring to when an incumbent presidential candidate sticks closely to the White House. The other Fifth Suffolk candidate says his opponent is just engaging in a “schoolyard challenge.”

Barry Lawton, who is mounting a write-in campaign after losing by 41 votes in a Democratic primary, said Democratic nominee Carlos Henriquez was “ducking” debates. The two debated several times before the Democratic primary in September.

“No one has called me to say they want a debate,” Henriquez told the Reporter earlier this week. He said Lawton’s accusations are false, since the two examples Lawton cited were not debates. Henriquez said he appeared on Pastor Bruce Wall’s show last week. He was unable to appear on Joe Fahey’s television show, which Henriquez said was also not a debate, because of a prior commitment. “He’s just exhibiting negative politics,” Henriquez said. “The primary’s over and he’s just lobbing accusations that don’t seem to be based on truth at all.”

Lawton also accused Henriquez of putting up campaign signs in several public spaces, which is not allowed.

Henriquez said no new signs have been put up since the primary. “If we’re not in compliance, we usually hear from the [Inspectional Services Department],” he said, adding he hasn’t heard from the regulatory agency.

Henriquez said he has continued to pick up support from local and state lawmakers, including incoming state Rep. Russell Holmes of Mattapan; Dorchester state reps Marty Walsh and Linda Dorcena Forry (she is married to Reporter managing editor Bill Forry); the city’s four city councillors at-large; and the Ward 13 and Ward 15 Democratic Committees.

Quote of Note: U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano on 2012

Asked by the State House News Service about running for the U.S. Senate in 2012, when Scott Brown is up for re-election, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano answered, “Talk to me in December.” Capuano, elected to his House seat in 1998, finished second to Attorney General Martha Coakley in last year’s special Democratic primary election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat. He is running for re-election to the House unopposed. U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who shares Dorchester with Capuano, has also expressed interest in taking on Brown, who beat Coakley in January’s finale.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report.