Ballot Question Results

Last night was a historic night ending perhaps the most aggressive election cycle ever. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to ignore the presidential election for my own sanity, and focus on the outcomes of Massachusetts’s four ballot questions.

Question 1

Question 1 would allow Massachusetts would allow the gaming commission to issue another slots parlor license. MA residents voted against the measure 60.9% to 39.1%.

Question 2

Question 2 would allow Massachusetts to expand the charter school cap by 12 schools. MA residents voted against the measure 62.1% to 37.9%.

Question 3

Question 3 would prohibit certain forms of farm animal containment. MA residents voted for the measure, 77% to 22.3%.

Question 4

Question 4 would legalize marijuana for individuals 21 and older. MA residents voted for the measure 53.5% to 46.5%.

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Ballot Question 4

As November draws closer, ballot questions are becoming more and more important to voters in Massachusetts. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to cover another controversial ballot question before we went to the polls.

On question 4, voters will have the option to let people 21 and over posses up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. This law would also allow home-grown plants (up to 12 marijuana plants). On top of this, it imposes a 3.75 excise tax on pot sales in addition to the 6.25 percent sales tax, and gives towns and cities the option to add-on a (third) municipal tax of 2 percent. For those keeping track at home, that’s up to 12 percent tax.

As with anything in politics in this day and age, there are those completely opposed, and those fiercely devoted to the ballot.

“Prohibition has failed to keep marijuana out of our community. It has failed to keep marijuana out of the hands of our young people. And it has cost law enforcement and society millions and millions of dollars to enforce,” Jim Borghesani said in an Associated Press article. Borghesani is a spokesman for Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is in favor of question 4. “We need to end prohibition and replace it with a taxed and regulated system and finally control marijuana in Massachusetts.”

Should this measure pass, a three-person Cannabis Control Commission would be created to “administer the new law and adopt new regulations”, with its members being appointed by the state treasurer.

Those against argue there are adverse effects of smoking marijuana, and can be a gateway drug to harder drugs, as Governor Charlie Baker, Marty Walsh, and Maura Healy have all said previously in an opinion piece written for the Boston Globe. The four Roman Catholic bishops of Massachusetts have also come out against the initiative, citing health effects.

“Legalizing a drug for recreational use that causes these effects on the human body, particularly our youth, is not a path civil society should choose to take,” they wrote.

Both sides have been pushing their views hard, particularly in the form of television advertisements. The Boston Herald found that $11.3 million has been spent on airtime, including time reserved for the next few weeks up until the election.

“In Massachusetts, TV time is crowded, primarily because of the New Hampshire Senate race,” said Borghesani. “TV time is at a premium.” Borghesani’s group has spent $2.3 million for TV advertisements thus far.

There’s a little less than a month until the election, and it is likely more money will be spent going forward pushing both sides of the ballot question.

Joining the Word of Twitter

This week I dusted off the old twitter account from freshman year that I made for an intro journalism class, and jumped back into the Twitter world. Since I still am newish to the platform, I expect that this list will change drastically throughout the semester, however for the time being I have narrowed down a list of Massachusetts-centered people to follow to get updates on all things politics on Beacon Hill.

1.@MassGovernor: Who better to start off the list than the Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker? Given he is one of the most heavily involved people in Boston-politics, as well as state-wide politics, this was a Twitter account I couldn’t afford to not follow

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2.@marty_walsh: If I was going to follow Charlie Baker, a logical next step was to follow his Boston-based colleague Mayor Marty Walsh. Given how much is going on in both the national and state election, a vast majority of his tweets have to do with politics. Although I’m secretly hoping Baker and him will release another parody music video.

3. & 4. @MassGOP and @massdems: I lumped these two together so this post didn’t look like I was biased either way. I decided to follow both of these accounts because they frequently use the hashtag #mapoli, for obvious reasons. Although the GOP has a smaller following in Massachusetts (both literally and on Twitter), both accounts have a lot at stake in the upcoming local elections. Although most of the things they tweet will have a slant, by following both hopefully I can find a happy middle ground.

5.@titojackson: After following the wrong Tito Jackson initially (from the Jackson 5, oops!) the RIGHT Tito Jackson seemed like a logical person to follow on twitter. Jackson has been incredibly vocal about this year’s state ballot questions, especially about lifting the charter school cap. He represents district 7, and represents all of Roxbury, and parts of South End, Dorchester, and Fenway.

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“Right” Tito

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6.@ShiraCenter: Shira Center is a political editor at the Boston Globe. I will be checking this account less frequently than others however, because there also are a good number of tweets that are more “personal” than “newsworthy”.

7. @FeliceBelman: Felice Belman is another political editor for the Boston Globe. Unlike Center, there appears to be more postings regarding political news (even if they are mostly from the Boston Globe). As my Twitter-ness develops, I am hoping to expand outside the Boston Globe circle.

8.@SenMikeMoore: Senator Michael Moore represents Worcester district. Since he is a representative in the local legislature, he frequently tweets about local issues, especially the local ballot questions. He also retweets often.
9.@KennyTorrella: Kenny Torrella is an activist who works at “Yes on 3 to Prevent Animal Cruelty in MA”. Since this is the ballot question I feel like I know the least about, I wanted to see what his twitter feed would look like. I am trying to find an opponent of the ballot question to follow as well. Torrella already messaged me with a link to read more about his initiative, so following seems like a good thing.

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10. @SoniaChangDiaz: Sonia Chang-Diaz is another state senator representing the 2nd Suffolk District. Since she is the chair for the Joint Committee on Education, and there’s a ballot question surrounding public schools vs. charter schools, I thought it would be interesting to see what she tweets/retweets on the matter.

I will definitely be adding to these throughout the semester, and following the #mapoli on TweetDeck!

Should the charter school cap be lifted?

This November, many are focused on the national debate between two polarizing politicians.

However, there also are important questions up for debate locally. Question 2 on this November’s ballot would raise the current charter school cap by 12 schools, providing that enrollment in charter school does not rise above 1% of total school enrollment throughout all of Massachusetts.

There are many factors that play into a question such as this, all of which were debated Tuesday at UMass-Boston.

“It is local control that got us into this situation that we’re in, where tens of thousands of children are being left behind by their local district schools,” said former Democratic state representative Marty Walz. “The reason charter schools exist is because local school districts have wholly failed to educate far too many children in this state.”

Opposing this legislation are teachers, most notably the Massachusetts Teachers Association according to a massteacher.org article, as well as select politicians. Their reasoning is charter schools drain money from local districts.

By law, students who leave for charter schools also take a portion of state aid with them. To assist the district school with this, they are given a reimbursement to help adjust the loss of dollars. To some, the loss of aid seems logical, since the public school is no longer educating the student who went to a charter school.

“This is money allocated from the state to educate children in the public schools – both district schools and charter schools,” said Walz said at Tuesday’s debate.

However, groups like the NAACP call charter schools “separate and unequal”. According to the massteacher.org article, charter schools have not been enrolling and recruiting high-need students that law requires them to, and many charter schools are lacking in English-language learners, special needs students, or financially strapped students.

This ballot question is very hotly contested, with 48% against the expansion, 41% supporting the question, leaving 11% undecided.

Also coming under fire is the sheer amount being raised to fund both the Support and Oppose campaigns ($12 million and $6.78 million respectively), as well as those who are donating. Large businesses have been backing the “Support” group, including National Amusements president Shari Redstone, EMC (now Dell Technologies), Partners HealthCare, and the Kraft Group to name a few. Having big corporations backing the support side has cast doubt on the legitimacy of their argument. Also on the “support” team are several nonprofit groups who, by law, do not have to disclose their funders. This allows the donations to remain anonymous.

“They effectively launder their money through intermediary groups, and it’s effectively legal to do that,” said Paul Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. The Center is a nonpartisan organization that works for greater transparency in political spending. “This is the so-called dark money problem that is growing throughout the US.”

Regardless of the poll numbers now in September, there’s still two months left until voters go to the polls. This leaves the future of Massachusetts’s public schools with an uncertain future.