I haven’t talked much about local or congressional races nor have I gone one of my traditional 3 state district hoping trips because my full time job precludes it, but there is a congressional race in my district that I care about, so I’d like to share with you a letter I sent to the editor of my local paper in support of Ann Wofford who is once again challenging Nikki Tsongas in my district.

There is one aspect of the race for the MA 3 district between incumbent Democrat Nikki Tsongas and Challenger Ann wofford that deserves more consideration by voters in the district in general and Fitchburg in particular.

Under our Constitution all spending bills must come from the House of Representatives, furthermore unlike the US Senate where the objection of a single member can slow down legislation, a member of the House has no such privilege meaning that to have influence on laws, you have to be in the majority.

In 2010 the GOP took the house in the “Big Red Wave”. They retained it during the 2012 election year and are expected to do so again in this election by a comfortable margin. Given GOP strength in midterm elections that means that Republicans will hold the house, and the power of the purse for the rest of this decade.

Wouldn’t it be good for the District in General and Fitchburg in particular, if for those last four years of this decade at least, it had a voice at the majority table when those spending decisions were being made?

As a conservative on issues like Obamacare Ann Wofford is a natural fit for my views.

But I submit and suggest that if you are a moderate or even a liberal who wants to be sure we get a fair shake when block grant and federal funds are allocated to the district in general and to Fitchburg in particular, you’ve got to have a vote that actually counts.

If we elect Ann Wofford to the House of Representatives we will. If we re-elect Nikki Tsongas we will not.

It’s that simple.

In fact there is one further point that for the sake of brevet I didn’t include in my letter to the editor.

If we elect Ann Wofford to congress she will be the only GOP member of the entire Massachusetts delegation. That means the amount of influence she will have will be amplified considerably, consider:

  • As the first GOP member of the House from Massachusetts in many years the GOP leadership would have a particular incentive to give ear to her positions to encourage her re-election.
  • As the only GOP member of congress from the state she would be the goto person for GOP governor Charlie Baker to advance legislative priorities for Massachusetts.
  • As the only member of the Massachusetts member of the majority pols from around the state including congressional democrats, would be coming to her for favors in the hopes of getting at least some hearing with the majority, that can’t help but put MA 3 in general and Fitchburg in particular in a better position vis a vis state spending and project.
  • Finally if we elect her THIS year, when the GOP majority increases during the midterms as it always does, Ann would have seniority over any newly elected members of the GOP majority that year increasing further the district and the city’s influence.

All of these political advantages are ours for the taking if we’re smart enough to elect Ann to congress this time around.

The golden days when Massachusetts congressmen like John McCormick and Tip O’Neill were House Speakers and we had real power in Washington are gone, but I submit and suggest that if you are a city counselor in Fitchburg, Lowell, Lawrence or Haverhill, who is looking to get funding for their needs,  particularly one old enough to remember those good old days, you should think long and hard before you send your people out to vote for Tsongas over Wofford and deny your city the power and influence that comes from the congressional majority.


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As a general rule there are not a lot of reasons for conservatives in Massachusetts to smile come election time but WCVB polls on Question 2, the expansion of charter schools in the state is an exception:

On charter schools, 49 percent of likely voters support the question and 39 percent oppose, with 12 percent unsure. With leaners, the support goes up to 52 percent and opposition to 41 percent.

These polling stats come despite the opposition of such liberal icons as Senator Elizabeth Warren coming out against Question 2. And the NAACP maintaining its opposition to such schools.

In fact there has been a divide on the question amongst liberals  with the Boston Globe editorializing against fiscal objections to charter schools and some Cambridge city officials  spitting from their fellows on question 2.

US News has noticed this split between the liberal grass-roots and their leadership on this issue

But why do many civil rights groups oppose charters? The more deeply one looks, the more puzzling the question. Unlike rank-and-file teachers, the African-Americans we surveyed support charters by a nearly two to one margin. Forty-eight percent of African Americans say they favor the formation of charters, while only 29 percent stand in opposition, with the remainder taking the neutral position. In fact the opinions of African-Americans resemble those of the American public as a whole – 51 percent support, 28 percent oppose, 21 percent neutral. A March Boston Globe poll found much the same level of support for charters in the Bay State as we found nationally, both among the public as a whole and among all demographic groups.

Not only does the black community support charters, but African-American students enjoy over-representation in charter schools. According to the U. S. Department of Education 27 percent of all charter students are black, even though black students constitute only 16 percent of the overall public school population. Hispanic students at charters (30 percent) are slightly over-represented, as their share of the school-age population is 25 percent. But white students constitute just a quarter of the enrollees at charters, even though they are half of all students attending public school. Mysteriously, the NAACP calls this segregation

This divide has not slowed down the teachers unions and their allies.  In my home town of Fitchburg a local office opened up in the parkhill plaza area with a big sign Fitchburg Educational Association over it.  This has been a source of the lawn signs against question two that have popped up all over town.  In my travels I’ve yet to notice any such comparable effort locally on the other side.

Of course it could be the reason for the inactivity of the pro-question 2 side might be a decision to allow the results from the Sizer School, the local charter serving grades 7-12 speak for itself

the Massachusetts Department of Education released the accountability results for schools across the state. Sizer School, a 7-12 public charter in Fitchburg, has reached Level 1 status – an exciting accomplishment. In the aggregate and by subgroup, Sizer students met state targets for achievement. Sizer also saw strong improvement in subgroup performance in English Language Arts, and in moving students from warning/failing into proficient, and from proficient to advanced. This benchmark is due to the achievement and dedication of Sizer staff, students, and families. It represents diligence and is the result of hard work to ensure students understand and are able to demonstrate mastery of content and concepts in a testing environment.

According to the Massachusetts State 2016 glossary of accountability terms level one means?

Massachusetts’ Framework for District Accountability and Assistance classifies schools and districts on a fivelevel scale, classifying those meeting their gap narrowing goals in Level 1 and the lowest performing in Level 5. Approximately eighty percent of schools are classified into Level 1 or 2 based on the cumulative PPI for the “all students” and high needs groups. For a school to be classified into Level 1, the cumulative PPI for both the “all students” group and high needs students must be 75 or higher.

It defines “high needs students” as:

The high needs group is an unduplicated count of all students in a school or district belonging to at least one of the following individual subgroups: students with disabilities, English language learners (ELL) and former ELL students, or economically disadvantaged students. For a school to be considered to be making progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps, the cumulative PPI for both the all students group and high needs students must be 75 or higher.

Sizer school scored 76 on all students and an even higher 78 for “high needs” students.

Meanwhile according to state stats Fitchburg in General (Level 3 62/60) and the schools servicing comparable grade levels   Fitchburg high  (Level 3 60/51)   Longsjo Middle school (Level 2 74/68)  and Memorial Middle School (Level 3 61/53) did not do so well.

On the minus side Sizer overall performance relative to other schools in same school type was 40 meaning that 60 percent of comparable schools scored better.  That might have been a good talking point for the folks at the Fitchburg Educational Association trying to move voters in Fitchburg voters if it wasn’t for the fact that Longsjo Middle school relative overall performance score was a 23, Memorial Middle school  a 22 and Fitchburg high a lowly 10 barely making double digits.

As election day grows nearer those opposed to charter school expansion in Massachusetts find themselves in the same position as Senator Richard Russell of Georgia who during the debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1957 had a memorable exchange over the need for a such a law with Senator Pat McNamara of Michigan on the senate floor.  Russell arguing for the status quo, noted McNamara’s stated racial issues in Michigan could be handled without outside interference and asked “Then, why does not the senator let us [in the south] do the same?”  McNamara, in a loud voice answered the argument for maintaining things as they were by saying:  “Because you’ve had ninety years and haven’t done it.”

That’s the dilemma of those hoping to reverse those polling numbers.  If the local schools had produced results that parents wanted for their children the whole question of charter schools would be moot.  But as long as the stats from the state and more importantly the results that are visible to the voters every time their children come home from school remain what they’ve been for years, lawn signs not withstanding the argument for the status quo will remain a difficult sell.


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Last night before hitting work I stopped at Happy Jack’s restaurant to see Howie Carr address a group of about 30-40 folk in support of Frank Ardinger’s run for state rep in the 4th Worcester district that you might have heard mention of if you saw my post and interview with the head of the Leominster republican committee at the Johnny Appleseed festival or the group of Fitchburg & Leominster residents at the Trump event in Bedford NH

Here is an excerpt of his speech

Frank spoke briefly afterwards

Before things began Howie consented to a brief interview as well

The process of changing the culture of Massachusetts begins one seat and election at a time, let’s see if Leominster is willing to do its part.


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Yesterday I spent the day in Leominster Massachusetts birthplace of Johnny Appleseed for their annual Johnny Appleseed fair manning the WQPH 89.3 FM Queen of Perpetual Help Shirley Fitchburg booth promoting Catholic radio for people and praying decades of the rosary on the spot for people’s intentions both online and in person.

At the festival I did a few interviews for WQPH. We talked to Adam Webber of the Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network which provides help for homeless families.

If you want to donate to MIHN their website is here.

I also spoke to Brother Alexis who while from Fitchburg has spent the last 2 1/2 decades in Italy.

I’d also like to thank him for joining me in many of the rosary decades that I prayed for others.

Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is.

The Incredibles 2004

Last Sunday when I woke up after getting home from Denver I turned on the TV as I got dressed for the Madonna Della Cava festival and noticed a commercial playing attacking Charter Schools and question 2 which began with the words.

“400 million dollars, that’s how much charter schools will drain from Massachusetts public schools this year”

Under normal circumstances this would be more background political noise that I would ignore but I had just come back from the Amplify choice conference put on by the Franklin Center where we spent a day and a half listening to speakers talk about Charter Schools both in Denver and across the nation.

And having attended said conference I knew that best the “Save our schools” crowd was being deceptive and at worst they were lying through their teeth because that statement ignores a cogent fact about charter schools…

Charter schools are public schools.

That would seem to be a rather important fact for that argument but an ad saying: “400 million dollars, that’s how much money will be spent on some public schools instead of others this year”  is unlikely to scare voters.

From that point the ad argument doesn’t get better.

400 million syphoned from local districts that desperately need it.

Except for the fact the Charter Schools are still part of the school districts that they are located in.

400 million that won’t fund more science and technology…

Actually the 400 million will just fund science and technology at a different school as anyone who joined me in visiting the Denver School of Science and Technology last week would know and met Sheila…

…and some of her classmates

The three wise young women
The three wise young women

…would see that science would not suffer, it will prosper.

arts or preschool, counseling or smaller class sizes

In fact charter that money would not only fund smaller class sizes which are the norm at charter schools but would fund them for groups that traditionally don’t get them as this enrollment chart shows:

In fact the STRIVE charter schools in Denver enrollment is 97% of color reflecting the neighborhoods they operate in.

$400 million unavailable to the 96% of students who don’t attend charter schools

That sentence is funny , it would be just as accurate to say to describe the $1.013 billion budgeted to the Boston Public schools as….

$1.013 Billion dollars unavailable to students who don’t attend Boston public schools”

…which again isn’t going to scare anyone.

The “save our schools” ads when they finish with

“Let’s improve public schools for all students, not just a select few.”

Forgetting for a second that by this argument your public school should not get a new lab because said lab is not for all public school students, just for the select few that go to it. It ignores that fact that the rising tide of Charter schools tends to lift all boats as evidenced by the results in Denver before expansion of charter schoolsDenver mid 2000'sand after
denver after

What is this ad actually arguing? It’s arguing to keep schools that are failing from having to compete with schools that are not, and it’s counting on the fact that most of the people seeing this ad, did not attend the Franklin Center #amplifychoice event this year.

Or to put it another way this “save our schools” ad is completely dependent on its audience being uneducated and uninformed about the results charter schools bring to protect failing public schools

Rather ironic isn’t it?

If you want to find out more about charter schools check out the #amplifychoice hashtag here or check out these posts at DaTechGuyblog:

Denver Day Two The Zoo and then Six #AmplifyChoice Conference Interviews

Denver Day Three Part 1: Panels and speakers

Denver Day Three Part 2: Da Writers at #AmplifyChoice

Denver Day Four Part 1: #AmplifyChoice on the Road


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At Pintastic NE 2016 There were some big names in Pinball one of them is Jersey Jack of Jersey Jack Pinball

That’s Dr. Rick Lewis of the silverball Pinball Museum with him.

This is his Wizard of Oz game in play

and here are the guts

The Charity Project Pinball that places machines in children’s hospital around the nation returned

And there were plenty of individual players like Howie

and Mike

But it wasn’t just individual players, there was also associations like the Southern New Hampshire Pinball Club.

If I had a few extra bucks and more time I’d have joined on the spot

And there were plenty of parents and children there which is why Maggie the Clown, Lee Lee and Jane were there

But in end the real stars are the volunteers and organizers who brought plenty of their own machines for people to play for hours on end at their own expense, helped keep them running and full of credits for all three days and then after many days that ended at 3 AM had to get up early on Sunday to pack up their machines to take home.

So give a bow to Gabe who goes through so much for all of us to have a great time.

Today I saw the Market Basket Movie food fight, several thought:

  1. The Movie focused a lot on the distribution crew, which makes sense, they took the biggest risks and without their willingness to take the big hit, none of this stuff works.
  2. The film talked a bit about the June vs December business, thoughts to the contrary I do believe that Arthur S would have won if he made his move in the Winter not only because it would have squeezed the workers harder but it would have meant there would have been no pressure on Pols to move.

  3. Some of the strategies of the work slowdown were simply brilliant and simply involved applying the skills the management team already had. It also pointed to the power of social media

  4. Seeing Maggie Hassan on the screen talking about the layoffs that prompts the pols to get involved was greatly frustrating to me as it reminded me of the missed opportunity of the GOP to get behind these people in a work action that was basically Pro-capitalism

  5. The movie didn’t touch at all on the attempts of the unions to get involved and unionize the workers and the employees decision to tell them to get stuffed. That is a significant part of the story and its exclusion needs an explanation.

  6. The willingness of customers to boycott really did a lot to win the day, it’s shows what a difference customer choice makes.

  7. Finally the single most important point of the movie is the Market Basket culture, it’s of hard word and dedication rather than entitlement. That culture is why they won, why they recovered and is the thing to celebrate.

On the way out of the picture I interviewed one of the people who saw it with me

The one odd thing to me was opening at 1:20 PM. It means that any Market Basket worker on 1st shift or 2nd shift couldn’t go to see it.

Today in Fitchburg the Market Basket story which I wrote about extensively comes to the silver screen in the movie Foodfight Inside the Battle for Market Basket:

Food Fight Trailer from Jay Childs/ JBC Communications on Vimeo.

That the GOP didn’t jump on this labor event, which was a pro-capitalism one, was a missed opportunity of epic proportions.

by baldilocks

Right, duty, whatever one wants to call it, I voted today in the California Primary Election. No Party Preference, crossover ballot—Republican. Who did I vote for? Ted Cruz. I figured that readers would want to know.

I first registered as a Republican immediately after the 2000 General Election in which I voted for a Republican picardelectionmemecandidate for president for the first time. This was after a decade-long exploration of the two major political parties and paying closer attention to current events than I had done before that period. Back then, I remained a registered as a Democrat on purpose until after I voted in order to send a tiny message to the party whose principles bore no resemblance to my own. Sixteen years later, the circumstances are similar: this was my first vote as an independent. We’ll see what happens next.


One of my real-life friends tells me that Hillary and Bill Clinton are in town, holding a rally a quick bus ride from my apartment, among other places in LA.

Hillary Clinton is holding multiple campaign events across Southern California on Monday, the eve of the California presidential primary.

Clinton attended a “Get out the Vote” rally at La Fachada Plaza Mexico in Lynwood. Then, she headed to Leimert Park Village Plaza for another rally, followed by an event at Long Beach Community College. The former secretary of state will then head to the Greek Theatre for a concert later in the evening.

The concert will feature singers Christina Aguilera, John Legend and Stevie Wonder.

Clinton has reached the number of delegates and superdelegates needed to win the Democratic nomination, according to an Associated Press survey of delegates.

I get my hair trimmed at a shop about two blocks from Leimert Park and was considering going for a clean-up cut today. Glad I found out about the Clinton event beforehand. Traffic makes me nuts—even when I’m not driving. So do Leftists.

Oh, have I mentioned that my hair is about an inch long? Not so baldilocks anymore. A lot grayer, though.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>baldilocks

A week ago DaWife and I went to the Leominster Knights of Columbus for a fundraiser for a charity called Cameron’s crusaders
camerons crusaders 004

In additional to the meal and the band there were various items to be auctioned off.

camerons crusaders 005

The Charity supports families of sick kids helping to cover the incidental expenses of Hospital trips from gas to meals. I spoke the organizers of the event:

If you went to see the movie Miracles from Heaven you’ll get the idea of what kind of things they’re talking about.

Their website is here. They’re worth your support.