Race for 1st Middlesex district turns bitter


With just 13 days left before the state’s primary, the candidates for the 1st Middlesex district state senate seat are lobbing bigger accusations against each other. On Monday, the Doherty campaign released a statement against Donoghue stating that she is a hypocrite when it comes to illegal immigration.

According to the flier, Donoghue willingly accepted a case against an individual, Lilliana Rivera, who was supposedly indicted for conspiracy to create and sell alien registration receipts and social security cards. The document goes on farther to state Donoghue was fundamental to Rivera receiving a substantially reduced sentence. The effect is that Donoghue is portrayed not only as soft on illegal immigration, but someone who misleads the public.

On its face, the Doherty campaign’s assertions are alarming to say the least. Factually, the campaign’s claims against Donoghue are half-truths.

The first claim: The flier seemed to indicate that Rivera was a key player in creating the forged alien registration receipts and social security cards.

One of the statements made was that Rivera was indicted for the federal charges of conspiracy to produce and sell false alien registration receipts and social security cards. To support this claim, the flier included a copy of a federal court’s filing for the case. The filing describes, in detail, the role of each person involved in the operation. It even lays out the offenses the individuals were charged with, of which Rivera was one out of two people indicted.

The document, which the Donoghue campaign says isn’t accurate, details the specific charges that Rivera faced. Though Rivera was found to be a part of the operation, she was found to play a minimal role. Namely, Rivera’s role was to transport the fake ids from the people who created them to the people who would buy them. In regards to specific offenses, she was charged with possession and transportation of falsified documents.

This information was verified by Conor Yunits, spokesman for the Donoghue campaign. According to Yunits, Rivera was forced to transport the ids because one of the people involved abused her. “Rivera got involved because one of the people who created the ids was her boyfriend. She was in an abusive relationship with him and he forced her to transport the ids. Rivera eventually sought a restraining order against her boyfriend.”

The second claim: that Donoghue willingly accepted the case when she could have refused.

Looking at the court document alone, it makes mention that the lead attorney was Donoghue and that she was retained. In legal speak, a retained lawyer is an attorney that been paid to take a case.

Yunits explained that wasn’t true. “Eileen speaks Spanish and was often assigned to cases to where one of the parties involved didn’t speak English. Rivera didn’t know a lot of English, so Eileen was appointed to the case. She only represented Rivera and not the individuals who actually forged the documents.”

What seems particularly odd is that the listed firm Donoghue was supposed to have been working for at the time, Gallagher & Cavanaugh, didn’t exist when the case was being processed.

The third claim: that Donoghue was responsible for Rivera’s reduced sentence.

The court document shows that Rivera was charged with possession and transportation, which are outlined in 18 U.S.C. 1546 (a) and 1028 (a) (2). In reading the text of 18 U.S.C. 1546 (a), a person who knowingly possesses false alien registration receipt cards or other documents can be fined, imprisoned or both.  According to the same section, a person can’t be imprisoned for more than 10 years for this violation if the offense wasn’t committed to facilitate international terrorism or drug trafficking. A person charged with transporting such documents can’t be imprisoned for more than 15 years, according to the terms of 18 U.S.C. 1028 (b).  It is also possible to be fined under this statute. Under both sections, no one can receive a higher sentence unless the offense was completed in order to commit international terrorism or drug trafficking.

The attached document included with the flier makes no mention of either terrorism or drug trafficking in list of charges against Rivera.

Notice that both of these sections of the United States Code establish maximum sentencing limits for these offenses. With that in mind, it’s possible that Rivera was given a lesser sentence because she wasn’t a major player. Or maybe her lesser sentence has something to do with the fact that the U.S. Attorney General, as evidenced by the included court document, dropped one of the charges against Rivera.

Why Rivera got a lesser sentence is murky at best given the court document is possibly inaccurate and nearly 20 years old at this point.

“This is another attempt by the Chris Doherty campaign to smear Eileen Donoghue’s name and reputation. Eileen worked hard to ensure 6th Amendment rights for everyone when she was an attorney,” remarked Yunits.

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July political developments, part 2


With the immigration debate being a big issue, protesters took action across Massachusetts.  Opponents of Arizona law S.B. 1070 marched at the National Governors Association meeting that was held in Boston.  The Boston City council backed off of its boycott of Arizona-based businesses after receiving heat.  A poll conducted by the Boston Herald revealed that many residents were frustrated by the boycott.

July also saw the burgeoning Tea Party movement split in half.  This division came to pass after several groups within the movement were associated with outspoken critics of the president and current policy. Mass.-based chapters seem determined to carry on despite the criticism the movement has received.

July also saw the expansion of unemployment benefits.  For Massachusetts, that meant that approximately 70, 000 residents gained financial help for a few more months. The bill passed by a vote of 272-152 in the House.  Senator Brown proposed an alternative funding source for the measure but his amendment was not passed.

On the casino gambling front, state legislators that supported the bill faced firm opposition.  The problem seemed to have begun over the House’s introduction of slot machines at all of the race tracks, or “racinos”, which both Patrick and the Senate refused.  The stalemate lasted until the last possible moment when the House and Senate agreed to slot machines at only two of the racetracks.  Though that version passed just before the end of the session, its fate is not yet determined because Patrick doesn’t support the current version.

Just as the legislature was wrapping up its current session, both the House and the Senate passed measures in favor of a national popular vote.  As a result, Massachusetts is now part of a “pact” with five other states to give all of their votes to the candidate that wins the national popular vote.  A major sticking point, according to opponents, is that it ignores the stated amendment process contained within the U.S. Constitution.

No Women, No Play project launched


With a concert and much fanfare, the Institute for Gulf Affairs (IGA) launched their “No Women, No Play” project in Washington, D.C. The aim of the project is to improve women’s rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) by boycotting the country from the Olympics. The IGA is a think tank that focuses on improving U.S. – Middle East relations by regularly meeting with members of the government and the media, so as to ensure that everyone is well-informed of developments in the area.

The concert took place in DuPont Circle, a major hub of activity within the district, on July 31st. The concert included performers Yvette Benjamin (aka Free) and Muneer AlAsheq. Speakers included Erin Matson, Vice President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Palestinian-American women’s rights activist, Besama Adriana Alghussein.

According to a recent press release on the IGA’s website, the program was created to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to enforce their charter.  The IOC is specifically mandated to “act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement,” and to “encourage and support the promotion of women…with a view to implementing the principle of of equality between men and women.”

The logic behind the project is straightforward. Currently, though women have separate athletic facilities within the country, the KSA bars them from participating in the Olympics. The KSA’s practice is a direct violation of the principles which created the Olympic movement. As specifically stated with the Olympic Charter:

The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind…any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement. Pg 11

The charter also explains that any member country must abide by the charter. Furthermore, the IOC is “supreme authority” of the Olympic Movement and is thus charged to enforce the charter. Any decision made by the IOC is considered binding and must be followed.

Essentially, the project is relating the KSA’s practice to South Africa’s race apartheid. The comparison being if South Africa was banned until they stopped discriminating against blacks, then KSA should be banned until they stop discriminating against women.

For more information on this project, please visit the IGA’s website which is http://www.gulfinstitute.org. Email questions and comments directly to nowomennoplay@gulfinstitute.org or rachel@gulfinstitute.org. Updates are sent to Twitter and Facebook as well.

Baker fumbles over negative ad controversy


That cities and towns are asking for funding is a point of interest that seemed to have gone unmentioned in the recent negative ads against Patrick. Over the past few days, Charlie Baker’s campaign has been releasing ads which appear to portray Patrick as someone who has selective hearing when it comes to the strained economy and reducing taxes.

Given the tough economic times, its understandable that the state is hearing more requests for funding. Today, the town of Chelmsford received a state grant for the Parker Middle School. The school will now be able to install solar panels as a part of the town’s efforts to switch to renewables.

The grant was awarded by the state in conjunction with the Green Communities Act, which was passed two years ago. The purpose of the act is to help municipalities switch to renewable energy sources. Under the act, several specific guidelines must be met in order for any city or town to receive funding. The guidelines include, but are not limited to, enacting zoning regulations that permit renewable energy buildings and implementing the Stretch Energy Code.

Though Parker is receiving $187, 224 in grant money, that figure is a part of the larger $8.1 million for which Chelmsford is currently eligible. Chelmsford was recognized as a Green Community by the Bay state in May of this year.

Baker (R-Swampscott) has a legitimate concern about the points he raises. With the cost of living increasing and the economy moving as slowly as it is, this writer agrees with the gubernatorial candidate that things should change for the better. What confuses this analyst was his campaign’s decision to broach these topics in this manner.

Negative ads appear “effective” so long as they don’t backfire on the candidate promoting them. More often than not, candidates seem to play Russian roulette because most seem to get a fair amount of whiplash afterward. Given the uncertainty midterm elections can create, any candidate seeking to monopolize on potential opportunities probably doesn’t want to be knocked out of the running.

With that in mind, why would Baker allow himself to be associated with apparently unfair ads? In doing so, Baker gives the impression that he used technical glitches to give himself a dishonest advantage. If this isn’t what Baker intended, then he’s due for damage control.

Slot machine battle jeopardizes casino bill


With three weeks left of the current legislative session, the Bay state might not see casinos after all because of the fight over slot machines. Tonight WBZ reported in their evening news that House Speaker Robert DeLeo is fighting both the Senate and Governor Patrick in an effort to bring slot machines to the states’ racetracks.  As the battle for slot machines continues, any form of expanded legislation becomes less likely to pass during this session.

Though the House calls for slots at all the racetracks, the Senate bill does not which is one trigger for this heated debate.  Another obstacle is Patrick’s firm support of the Senate’s version.

The challenge for both Patrick and DeLeo will be to compromise before the legislature adjourns for the summer.  Should the bill not pass, both incumbents will have to do some serious damage control since both will probably face harsh public criticism.  At a time when Mass. residents are pushing for solutions to the budget deficit and the weak economy, a battle of ideology probably doesn’t bode well for any candidate.

Boston City Council takes action on Arizona legislation


By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

Joining a chorus of criticism nationwide, the Boston City Council today passed a resolution calling for the city not to invest in state or local government in Arizona, in protest over the state’s recently passed immigration law.

A brief round of cheers broke out in the chamber after the unanimous voice vote on the resolution this afternoon.

The non-binding resolution authored by City Council President Michael Ross and Councilor Felix G. Arroyo calls for the city “to the extent reasonable … not to participate in any business activities substantially connected with the State of Arizona and municipalities in Arizona.”

The resolution calls for the city to review its investments in Arizona state or municipal bonds and to review travel by city employees to Arizona for conferences and other official business, said Arroyo.

“As a city, we have long rejected the idea that racial profiling is sound public safety policy,” he said, calling it bad policy and an infringement on citizens’ constitutional rights. “And we decided we don’t want to invest in a state that believes otherwise.”

Ross said in prepared remarks that the vote would send “a message to other cities and states that laws like these are unfair to the people who have done as so many of our forefathers have done — come to this country legally to make a better life for themselves.”

Ross said he was “outraged when I heard about the Arizona law that requires anyone who looks ‘reasonably suspicious’ to be stopped and asked to prove that they’re a legal resident of the United States. The last time people were stopped and asked for papers in this country, it was during the era of slavery.”

No one spoke against the proposal, said Amy Derjue, a spokeswoman for Ross.

Councilors have reported a slew of angry calls over the resolution after area conservative talk radio shows urged listeners to call councilors. Immigrant advocates also phoned councilors urging them to support it.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s office didn’t immediately have a comment.

Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer has said that the state is “acting responsibly to address a border security crisis that is not of our making.”

“The federal government’s failure requires us to act to protect our citizens, and we are doing just that,” she said last week, signing an amendment to the controversial bill that she said was intended to prevent racial profiling.

Arizona governor’s spokesman Paul Senseman, said that in Arizona both proponents and opponents of the law have come out against economic boycotts.

“It is clear that an economic boycott of Arizona would indiscriminately harm innocent people,” he said.

Since the vote, a number of entities have reacted negatively, raising concerns about the economic hit Arizona will take. The venerable African-American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha decided to move its 104th general convention from Phoenix to Las Vegas. The Major League Players Association — 27 percent of whose members are Latino — condemned the action. The Phoenix Suns have also announced they will wear a jersey bearing the name “Los Suns” during a playoff game tonight in protest of the law.

Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles are considering measures similar to Boston’s.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

America’s perception of Arizona’s Immigration Law


Update: On July 7th, Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) discussed national immigration policy on C-SPAN. In the process, he explicitly points out that illegal immigrants fill the lowest paying jobs in the country, which means that they don’t compete against most Americans for work.

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According to the New York Times, most Americans agree that Arizona’s law will result in racial profiling. What is particularly curious about the article is that there is no talk of sympathy on behalf of the people who were polled. That gives the appearance there was little concern about the effects that would be felt by other races, which probably does not bode well for America’s image.

In addition, respondents also seemed to believe that crime would drop as a result of this legislation. Apparently, respondents seem to believe that if immigrants are scared into not reporting crime (of which even legal immigrants are worried about), then crime levels will drop. Think of things this way: just because fewer crimes aren’t reported doesn’t mean that crimes are suddenly not being committed.

A common complaint that was mentioned was how illegal immigrants are a drain on America. Specifically, respondents voiced concern over how illegal immigrants use public services, like the emergency room, without paying for their usage. Factually, that complaint isn’t entirely correct as illegal immigrants pay into Social Security but never see any of their money again as they do not get social security benefits.

Where do you stand on Arizona’s immigration legislation? Do you think that it causes more harm than good, or should the Federal government mirror Arizona’s stance?