Posted September 19, 2013 5:30 PM ET; Last updated September 20, 2103 1:45 AM ET
Cambridge's Fifth Ward Democrats sponsored a candidate forum for the Fifth Congressional District Democratic primary election in Massachusetts at Lesley University on Wednesday September 18, 2013.
This district includes part or all of the following Massachusetts cities and towns:
Cambridge-Ward 3 Precinct 2A; Ward 4 Precincts 2, 3; Wards 6, 7, 8, 9; Ward 10 Precincts 1, 2.
Sudbury-Precincts 1A, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
The [previous election forum ] event [held] on Sept. 12, [2013 was] co-sponsored by seven groups: 350 Massachusetts, Better Future Project, Massachusetts Peace Action, the National Organization for Women, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, and Democratic Socialists of America. J. Michael Gilbreath, an organizer for Progressive Democrats of America [. . .] said [Martin] Long and [Paul] Maisano, who were not invited to the debate, announced their campaigns after the forum had already been planned and, due to time constraints, could not be accommodated.
Sheriff Peter Koutoujian first mentioned that the previous forum excluded the two non career politicians.
Lesley University Vice President Marylou Batt introduced Warrren Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, who moderated the forum of seven candidates. His questions were long and unfocused. He often shared his editorial opinions during the discussions. This served two purposes. It confused the candidates and the audience. But it also allowed the candidates to answer any part of the question and focus on whatever they wanted to talk about. Tolman is the usual Democratic spokesman on WFXT-TV in Boston with a changing Republican Party counterpart. He is articulate and knowledgeable about the standard liberal issues in Massachusetts. He never deviates from the party line, but he does have a sense of humor. Was he chosen instead of a journalist to ensure that no embarrassing questions were asked? The audience was extremely partisan as well, cheering whenever Republicans were ridiculed. Tolman's personality is pleasing. It is hard to dislike him. His political and union influence and position in a major law firm demands he gets respect from all in his presence. He is also the brother of a state senator from Watertown. His first question was about the SNAP program. That is a federal food stamp program administered by the state, giving money to persons (not only citizens), who self identify being below poverty levels in Massachusetts. Fraud using SNAP EBT cards is under attack in the state legislature by state Senator Shaunna O'Connell and Boston Herald columnist and radio talk show host Howie Carr. The use of EBT cards for non food purchases makes Carr's blood boil.
Marylou Batt, Vice President at Lesley University introduced the forum moderator.
Sheriff Koutoujian argued that "the gap between rich and poor increased between 1998 and 2009." He did not comment about 2009 to 2012 when Obama was president.
State Sen. Katherine Clark suggested that food is essential to "help people learn." You mean like air and sleep?
Concerned citizens at the forum. Seen enjoying the forum was former Cambridge City Councilor Sam Seidel, who is a candidate for election this year; former Mayor of Cambridge and State Representative Alice Wolf, who did not run for re-election; Cambridge City Councilor Minka van Beuzecom; former Cambridge Mayor, now Clerk Magistrate of the Middlesex Courts, Michael Sullivan; Rep. Jon Hecht of Watertown.
State Senator Carl Sciortino from Somerville told about his "single parent father" who used to keep their "refrigerator full of food." He and his brother were happy to have their father at home. They did not care if he brought home more food.
Warren Tolman added, "The Republicans want to end the SNAP program."
Preparing the sound system.
Karen Spilka, state senator from Ashland MA said "We are the wealthiest nation in the world." Does this explain why politicians have no concern about spending other people's money? Is Sen. Spilka unaware of the national debt, as in owing money to other nations? Spilka revealed that her "father had a major mental illness." Does that mean that contrary to the beliefs of some politicians, police, journalists and psychiatrists, that mental illness is not hereditary? Sen. Spilka mentioned "the Old Boys network" which she fights, joining Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust. Have they created an Old Girls network which acts the same way? She said she began her career as a leader of the Ashland School Committee.
Moderator Warren Tolman
Martin Long one of the two non career politicians running for the nomination, asked "Is Congress working?" He asked the audience to indicate if they thought Congress was working. He suggested a "big hit" on Republicans and "carpet bombing" the media. He laments "We lost Barney Frank and even Anthony Weiner" who always attacked Republicans. He said the old contract where Republicans give "money to farmers" remains in effect wasting taxpayer funds.
This Somerville Community Access Television producer filmed portions of the event.
Sheriff Koutoujian announced "We lost the war on drugs." One young man in the audience came up to Koutoujian explaining that he was a guest in the Sheriff's jail and he is now free. He came to see him for help getting a job. The Sheriff said he would help him get a job.
State Sen. Katherine Clark, former prosecutor and law clerk to a federal judge, responded that "mandatory sentencing" is counterproductive and alternatives to jail should be considered to help young men "get their acts together."
Member of the audience.
Lesley University Vice President Marylou Batt looks up to Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.
Sen. Spilka argued that the government should invest in more education. She suggested more, before school and after school and weekend, programs. She disagrees with John Taylor Gatto's recommendation of less school.
State Sen. Katherine Clark (left), listens to Lesley Phillips, Democratic Party activist, candidate for Cambridge City Council.
State Senator Katherine Clark
Martin Long mentioned "angels on the head of pins." He favors doing "to Republicans what they did to us." He said, "if you want to stop war, institute the draft. When white people get drafted there is no war." He said it is all about "proper messaging." Were there any white people in the Civil War? I forget. The Revolutionary War? World War I, and World War II? The Korean War? The Viet Nam War? Were all the soldiers in those wars black, brown, red and yellow?
Carl Sciortino said he favors reforming the MCAS test in order to end the "cradle to jail pipeline."
Non career politician Martin Long.
Sen. Clark revealed her husband is from Colorado, which has a "Make My Day" law. She said it is the same as the Trayvon Martin case. The media said the Zimmerman prosecution was about the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law. But the Zimmerman defense team did not assert that defense at all. They used the traditional self defense common law.
Paul Maisano said he is a "private businessman." He said he would focus on "building good relationships with others" if elected.
Sen. Spilka said "I'm a fighter, and I'm known for getting things done." She added, she "fights the Good Old Boys network." She revealed one of her first triumphs was getting public bus service for her community, Ashland.
Sen. Will Brownsberger said he would make friends with other congressmen if he was elected.
Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.
Martin Long said he did not hear "the how" and "the what." He said if he was elected he would "form a bi-partisan coalition to target bad laws and defund them." He favors "hitting them hard with messaging." What's needed is "big messaging" to promote "progressive programs." He wants to do for progressives what Newt Gingrich did for Republicans.
State Rep. Carl Sciortino quoted US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying he too wants to change the conversation. He revealed he knows some "people who vote Republican against they own interests."
State Representative Carl Sciortino.
Paul Maisano said the government "is pumping money into the economy but is not creating jobs." He believes that crime is high "because there is no work." He says we need to bring back "manufacturing."
More concerned citizens, one candidate.
Sen. Spilka said the state "needs more stimulus targeted investment." She supports unions and favors raising the minimum wage.
Sen. Brownsberger said "we all believe we should have more stimulus." He said he reads the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to keep informed. He said he would consult with experts at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government if elected. He would also talk to a wide range of people, asking questions of political scientists and economists.
Non career politician Paul John Maisano.
Martin Long said the United Kingdom and "Japan stunned experts showing more stimulus is a good thing." He said "TARP didn't lose a cent." He favors hitting them "hard with the big lie." He noted "the media is in love with embarrassment, saying one thing and then another." He did not say if that is a way to get the attention of politicians.
Rep. Sciortino said he looks to Sen. Elizabeth Warren for guidance. He added Robert Reich fights for social and economic justice. Sciortino would close the corporate tax hole, reduce military spending and increase spending on social services. Is the recession over?
State Senator Karen Spilka.
Sen. Clark reminded the panel and the audience that women still earn seventy-seven cents for every dollar men earn. She said she agrees with everything Sen. Elizabeth Warren professes. Everything?
State Senator Will Brownsberger.
When I left, the discussion continued about the NSA scandal of abusing the information the agency collects.
It appeared to me as one more forum as usual. For the uninitiated it was informative. But these issues are in the media every day. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the US Congress, no less local and state government. That was unaddressed, except by Martin Long. He suggested intense "messaging." Isn't there already intense meaningless propaganda messaging?
PBS NOVA broadcast a feature called, Why Ships Sink.
The focus is on accidents in general, but mainly about the Titanic on April 14, 1912, and the Costa Concordia in 2012. One Monday morning quarterback observed, "The captain of the Costa Concordia did not tell passengers of the danger. As a result passengers were left confused by a lack of useful information." Is there an analogy to the United States at present? Former US Senator Fritz Hollings Democrat from South Carolina wrote a book about this shameful situation, Making Government Work.
The PBS maritime experts added, "The lack of direction made a bad situation worse." and "You need to provide them [passengers] with accurate information." Due to dumbing down of citizens and journalists, the minds of Americans are filled with inaccurate propaganda which makes the bad situation worse. Few people have an awareness of the dangers at present to their freedom and to their possessions.