Thursday, November 30, 2006

Worcester County DA John J. Conte Uses Lies And Illogic In His Brief Against Ben LaGuer.

As the Benjamin LaGuer case heads for oral arguments in the Supreme Judicial Court it is vitally important for civically engaged netizens to keep a close eye on the process. Trials and other court proceedings are public for a reason, because in a democracy sunshine is always the best disinfectant. Two weeks ago the commonwealth filed its brief opposing LaGuer's bid for a new trial. It is a public document and I've posted it in full to (look on the "Filings and Rulings" page). I also published this commentary on it in this week's Valley Advocate. LaGuer's lawyers, headed by James C. Rehnquist, are due to file a rebuttal next Monday (Dec. 4). The Committee for Public Counsel Services is expected to file an amicus.

Never doubt the ability of lawyers to massage just about any set of facts into the service of the case they are trying to make. That is the nature of the job and the good ones do it with finesse. Outgoing Worcester County District Attorney John J. Conte recently filed his brief opposing Benjamin LaGuer's bid for a new trial. The document, available in full at, crosses the line from artful to deceitful.

LaGuer's conviction for a 1983 rape, which became a driving issue in the governor's race when Deval Patrick's past advocacy for the inmate became the subject of attack ads, will be revisited during oral arguments in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on January 4.

Conte's dogged unwillingness to look at new evidence that has emerged over the 23 years LaGuer has been claiming his innocence is nothing short of shameful. Five years ago a young attorney unearthed a report showing that four fingerprints found on the base of a trimline phone, the cord of which was used to bind the victim's wrists, did not match LaGuer's. That report, which is the basis for LaGuer's quest for a new trial, was hidden from the defense and by extension the jury.

In opposing a new trial, Conte devotes just a few of the 50 pages in his brief to legal arguments as to why this suppressed evidence shouldn't warrant a new trial. The rest is a hodgepodge of disingenuous claims, based on a fundamentally inaccurate reading of the trial transcripts, that the case against LaGuer was so overwhelming that knowledge of a few fingerprints found on an object used in the commission of the crime would not have influenced the jury. From there Conte reasons backward to claim that the fact that those prints have since been lost or destroyed is of no consequence.

Conte draws attention to a 2002 DNA test showing a trace amount of LaGuer's genetic material in the biological evidence. He neglects to acknowledge that four highly reputable DNA experts have since examined the document trail associated with the evidence in conjunction with the DNA reports, and concluded that the potential for contamination was extremely high.

But worse than his dishonest and selective use of the record and the DNA testing, Conte introduces a flat-out lie into the proceedings, a lie not related to fingerprints but to blood type.

In October, 1983, three months after having been sent to jail based on a flimsy investigation, LaGuer made an egregious error which he later admitted to. He subverted a court-ordered test of his saliva by mixing spit from his cellmate in with the sample he gave the police. As a result, the State Police chemist was unable to determine LaGuer's blood type from that sample. Oddly, according to the forensic report, the chemist was also unable to determine a type on all but one of seven items in the evidence that had blood on them. There was one piece of tissue paper the chemist reported as having Type B blood on it.

LaGuer has Type B blood. From then on, every time he mustered a challenge to his conviction, prosecutors argued that his blood type linked him to that tissue and the crime. In August, 2001 that same blood was submitted for DNA testing on the theory that if it, or any of the other blood from the crime scene, matched LaGuer's genetic profile, there could be little doubt about his guilt. Astonishingly, the blood not only did not match LaGuer's DNA, but it did match the victim's DNA, though the victim is known to have had Type O blood.

This means that the forensic report was wrong on a fundamental fact, a very serious issue in and of itself. It was such a dramatic revelation that on February 15, 2002 the Boston Globe's David Arnold reported:

"For many years Conte has insisted that the blood on the tissues belonged to LaGuer. Parole boards and appellate judges have kept LaGuer in prison partly because of that assertion. In 1991 the state Supreme Judicial Supreme Court denied LaGuer's appeal for a new trial partly because 'the defendant's... blood type was the same as that found on tissues at the rape scene,' Justices Paul Liacos, Herbert Wilkins, Joseph Nolan, Francis O'Connor and John Greaney concluded."

Fast forward to the brief Conte submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court this month. In it he repeats the false claim that the blood type connected LaGuer to the crime, even after he knows that to be false.

Conte's brief is riddled with marginally relevant and outright bogus indicators of the supposedly overwhelming case against LaGuer. It also makes much of LaGuer's admitted contamination of the 1983 saliva sample, terming it a "fraud on the court" that precludes him from getting any consideration based on the suppressed fingerprint report. In fact, by brazenly perpetuating the debunked connection between LaGuer and the falsely reported type B blood found at the crime scene, it is Conte who is trying to hoodwink the justices.

Let The People Vote?

The ability to walk a mile in another man’s moccasins affords those who practice it a more complete understanding in most any situation. Pertaining to the issue of marriage equality, I see a group of conservative minded people who are doing what they believe is best for themselves and those they care about. Standing up for what they believe in is an admirable notion, but when it is accomplished through omission and mistruth, it loses all nobility. The petition to end marriage equality was put into existence under dubious circumstances and should not necessarily be seen as the will of the people.

Time and time again the opponents of marriage equality have told the public they need to fear gays being married. They say that their churches and way of life are under attack, the sanctity of marriage is at stake, and that society needs to protect children. Were any of these accusations true, it would be of concern to me as well, but the proof is lacking. In the nearly three years that marriage equality has existed, it has not been proven a threat to anyone, let alone harmful. and Massachusetts Family Institute have failed in their responsibility to prove what they accuse to the citizens of this commonwealth. It is time for logical heads to prevail and voice the reality that gay marriage is no more harmful than any other aspect of living in a continually more diverse society. Unfounded charges should not be afforded the dignity of our attention, especially when those charges are meant to deny an entire class of people their civil rights.

These groups have failed to bring a majority of citizens to support their root cause. The opponents of marriage equality hope to divert voter’s attention to an argument that has more impact only at first glance. They argue that the right to vote directly on this issue is being taken away from citizens, and democracy is being overruled by our legislators. This is not the truth, but it grabs people's attention. They are doing this as a distraction from what this amendment is meant to do for our community, and what it will say about our state. Our own constitution argues that one citizen’s rights end where another citizen’s rights begin. We need to be ever vigilant not to legislate beliefs, even our own. In a country that prides itself on freedom and equality, and in a state whose history is so rich in the leadership of these principles, how do we justify such a vote where no such justification has been established?

We have elected fine representatives that understand the essence of liberty, their responsibilities, and see the amendment to end marriage equality for what it is; a vessel of hatred and bigotry. They understand civil rights are not to be voted upon, and if this amendment comes before us on a ballot, we the people would vote it down ourselves. They are trying to save us all another two years of vitriol and social division. Let the legislators do their job and defend us from those who level unsubstantiated charges against their neighbors that are akin to bearing false witness.

The attempt to simplify this matter into a debate on whether we should vote directly is an attempt to distract and dupe people once again. The same was done when this very petition was circulated. Don't fall for it people, you're better than that. Gay people are individuals, just like everyone else. As individuals they have proven themselves as worthy neighbors, and generous contributors to society. There are no good reasons to deny gay people the dignity to marry, or be treated as lesser than equal solely of the fact that they are gay.

In conclusion, let us lay to rest the argument once and for all, whether or not marriage is a civil right with the precedent cited from the United States Supreme Court; “Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

388 U.S. 1
June 12, 1967, Decided
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rosa Parks Human Rights Day March, December 1

Visit for all the information on this event. All minorities are walking in this march as well as their supporters. Equality is unconditional, or at least that is what was expected of this great nation. There is no need to fear freedom, and it is our differences that make us the strongest nation on Earth. I pray we never outgrow the ability to learn from one another and be better for the experience. Bigotry has no place in our lives, and we can make a difference if we start standing up to it rather than allowing it. Encourage your friends to join you, or come alone. There will be plenty of new friends to make once you are there!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Is This the Justice You'd Want?

Your son comes home from Iraq and celebrates his twenty first birthday with his friends. In the course of the evening he and a friend visit several places to see old friends and drink. No one asks as they leave the last bar who is driving. Tragedy strikes. While driving home a little boy is run over and the car spins out of control, going off the road, flipping several times, ejecting both occupants. The boy who was hit and your son's friend die shortly after from their injuries. The officer that arrived at the scene says your son was the driver and is charging him with two counts of vehicular homicide, and aggravated drunk driving. When you son becomes conscious again he states that he was not the driver, but suddenly the blood evidence that would have proven him innocent is now missing. He is convicted on all counts with no physical evidence. He appeals for a new trial based on lost evidence, but his conviction seems to serve as proof of his guilt in the eyes of those whose job it is to administer justice on behalf of public good. The horror of the scene fuels public outrage, seeming to prevent him from getting justice.

Sound like a far fetched horror story? I have written this to parallel the case against Ben LaGuer, a man who had come back from serving in the army and just turned twenty years old when a heinous and violent crime was committed against his neighbor. When you take a look at this case without the assumption of guilt, the facts paint a very different picture than what we would expect of a man convicted of rape,and sentenced to life more than 23 years ago. In the rush to find the guilty party, many mistakes were made. Investigators may have come to another conclusion had they bothered to look further. When the facts of this case are laid out together they point to the strong possibility that we have jailed an innocent man, but they most certainly call for a second look, and a new trial.

On July 14, 1983 Leominster's Detective Carignan obtained a search warrant for Ben LaGuer's apartment by stating the victim said she saw the assailant enter Ben's apartment. Later the detective would tell a grand jury that the crime took place in Ben's apartment, and that the victim identified Ben by name. All three points have been refuted by the victim herself. She was shown a picture of Ben LaGuer by Detective Carignan while in her hospital bed still reeling from the attack and said it was the assailant. Later they would find out she has schizophrenia, a disease that causes it's sufferer to confuse similar people as being the same person. Then they find out that the police had found a likelier suspect that matched Ben's description so perfectly that his own father once mistook him for Ben at a distance. This man had previously lived in the building, had a history of sexually abusing family members, had already spent time in a mental institution, and since Ben has been behind bars, has gone on to be convicted of rape. No forensic evidence was ever found to link Ben to this crime. He was convicted solely on the victim's ability to identify him. She was 59 years old at the time, had problems with her vision along with the schizophrenia. The one piece of evidence that may have saved him was the phone that the assailant ripped off the wall only ten minutes before police arrived. The fingerprints on it that did not match Ben's. The test results were verified two days after the attack, yet District Attorney John Conte's office claimed the report was still not ready for the January trial six months later. The report dated July 16, 1983 surfaced 18 years after the conviction. The physical fingerprint evidence is still missing.

Ben Laguer has maintained his innocence all these years despite the fact that in doing so he keeps himself behind bars. Had he taken the plea bargain they offered,he could have been free in only two years. The parole board continues to reject him based solely on his claim of innocence. He continues to hope for a new trial. There are many more disturbing facts that I have not shared with you about this case. If you are interested in a more detailed account visit Before you look away to more pleasant subjects and decide not to involve yourself, remember that the same justice system that served Mr. LaGuer serves you as well. The statue of Justice is blindfolded so that she may listen to the facts without prejudice. She is not meant to be deaf or dumb to those facts, otherwise justice is not served.

You can contact District Attorney John Conte's office and voice your concerns by calling 508-775-8601, faxing 508-831-9899, by email, or by writing to:
John Conte, District Attorney
Courthouse room 220
2 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01608

Let them know how you feel. If their case against Ben LaGuer has merit they should not fear a new trial, and that the questions in this case demand one.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mixing it up with Conservative Bloggers on the Ben LaGuer Miscarriage of Justice

This is the second in a series of posts on the Benjamin LaGuer issue. This afternoon I spent time on some of the rightwardly winged Massachusetts blogs. Gov. Elect Deval Patrick's appointment of Joan Wallace-Benjamin as his chief of staff was getting a workout. Like Patrick, she had spoken out on the injustices of the LaGuer case in the 1990's. So the conservative bloggers were busy opining as to when the prison doors in the state are going to be swinging wide open. I happen to have a lot of respect for true conservatism. So my post to their blogs is aimed at appealing to their better angels. Feel free to use the links to add your $.02.

I am glad to see that there is a two-sided debate on Hub Politics and Wizbang! and Universal Hub on Benjamin LaGuer's actual guilt. (Which is a separate question from whether he got a fair trial. That question will be taken up by the SJC in January.)

Having researched the case I have come to the conclusion that not only did LaGuer not commit the crime, but the police overlooked a likelier suspect who went on to be charged with another rape and who is still living in the community. Does that make me a bleeding heart liberal? Absolutely not. It makes me someone who takes law enforcement and public safety seriously. As I argued on Hub Politics last August when it looked like the Tom Reilly campaign was trying to smear Patrick for his comments on the LaGuer case, true conservatives are instinctively suspicious of government power. In this case, the Worcester legal establishment (long dominated by Democrats, by the way) has been going to extraordinary lengths to defend a bad conviction.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that the 2002 DNA test sealed the question of LaGuer's guilt in the minds of many people. I would be among them had I not taken a closer look at the case. The fact is, there is a growing awareness in the DNA expert community (read: Tarnish on the 'Gold Standard': Recent Problems in Forensic DNA Testing, by William Thompson) that just as in everything human beings do there is potential for error when it comes to forensic DNA. Don't get me wrong, it's an important tool and law enforcement has and will use it to good effect. But there are now dozens of case studies showing that the results are susceptible to mistakes through lab error, contamination and occasionally fraud. As the saying goes, The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance. So whether you are liberal, conservative or somewhere else on the spectrum, don't ever make the mistake of kissing away your Constitutional rights through a blind faith in supposedly scientific proclamations.

In LaGuer's case four highly reputable DNA experts have looked a the paper trail associated with the evidence and they have looked at the DNA reports (which are available in full at and concluded that contamination is the best explanation for how the results turned out. One of them had this to say:

“In summary, there are numerous deficiencies in this case relating to the criminal investigation, evidence collection, evidence handling, evidence storage, chain of custody, serology testing, and DNA testing. The types of errors and mistakes in this case are the result of individuals not adhering to the accepted standards and practices of criminal investigation and forensic laboratory testing.”

- Dean A. Wideman, certified forensic consultant

So whatever your political leanings, always view the government with suspicion. I think if you take a hard and honest look at this case you will agree that LaGuer deserves a new trial. After all, the commonwealth hid a State Police generated report from him at the time of trial that showed there were four fingerprints found on the base of the trimline telephone, the cord of which was used to bind the victim's wrists and that they belonged to someone other than LaGuer. Under our system of justice (which I wouldn't want to trade for any in the world) that is just plain unacceptable.

If you oppose a new trial that means you are for saying it is okay for the government to hide key and potentially exculpatory evidence. If that is the kind of country you want to live in, then God help you. A new jury at a new trial will have every opportunity to examine the DNA and any other evidence the commonwealth wants to introduce. It will also have the right and indeed duty to reconvict LaGuer if that is their conclusion.

By the way, for those who don't know this already, the lawyer who is working for free to argue LaGuer's case in the upcoming SJC hearing on January 4, 2007 is a guy named James C. Rehnquist. His father was the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, one of the towering figures in conservative jurisprudence of the latter part of the 20th century. So before you join in the political spinning that characterized how all sides used this case in the campaign, ask yourself what it means to be an American, and what the right to a fair trial might mean to you or someone you love some day.

(For more chatter on the LaGuer/Joan Wallace-Benjamin connection head on over to the Blue Mass Group blog.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oh Yes, Tennesseans ARE Stupid!

John encouraged me to post this here (thank you John for your glowing praise of my blogging). While I'm not a native of MA (yet), this will give you a little something to be grateful for. At least you don't have to hear this as much as we do!

This was posted to our local paper's online comments section (bold is the commenter; italics is my response):

As to the sinister implications of “same sex marriage” here are a few. Our society would experience the loss of religious freedom. This has happened in Canada where Biblical preaching against sodomy is interpreted as hate speech.

and you should care about this why? laws were passed allowing blacks and whites to marry but it hasn't stopped my home church from preaching against it (among other things) and refusing to marry interracial couples.

The public schools will teach homosexuality because it will be the law of the land. Moral instruction on sexual matters may become obsolete and even forbidden.

proof??? schools can't even teach safe sex what makes you think they'll be teaching gay sex. btw, gay sex is not performed any differently than straight sex, only the genders are the same. i know, too much for your mind to handle.

Adoption laws will collapse with regard to the make up of the family and any party will be able to adopt children.

and being able to get kids out of orphanages and revolving foster care is a bad thing? gee, i thought you guys cared about the kids.

Children will be expected to develop emotionally without the permanence of family life.

what's more permanent than marriage? first we're condemned for being promiscuous and then those that want permanence with their soulmates through marriage are told they can't possibly be permanent. who are you to say? how many kids are already expected to develop emotionally without the permanence of family life? you know, divorce? and how many kids are shifted from one parent to the other, from grandparents to aunts/uncles to cousins twice removed? want kids in permanent environments? work on your own first, eh?

Traditional marriage will begin to disappear like it has in Scandinavia where cohabitation is the norm.

show proof, please. The fact is that Scandinavia doesn't have "gay marriage," per se, but "registered partnerships" open to only same-sex couples that give MOST of the rights of marriage but by a different name. For instance, a same-sex couple can adopt each other's children but not children outside of the relationship. So, again, this is a bad thing? What has been seen as the "fall" of traditional marriages is really the rise of same-sex couples entering into "registered partnerships." Not to mention the fact that Scandinavian countries have the lowest poverty rates and highest education rates which basically take away the need for forced marriage of heterosexual couples. They're doing it (marriage) because they love each other, not because the HAVE to.

Oh, here's my source(s):
Freedom to Marry

Immorality will become impossible to avoid in public.

and we can avoid it now?

The health care industry could be destroyed.

how? so apparently having gay couples being able to care for each other "in sickness and in health" will destroy health care? that doesn't make any sense.

And for those of us who believe in the Bible where sodomy is a symbol of social destruction it could get even worse. That was why we voted for the amendment.

and that's YOUR beliefs, not everyone's. p.s. not only gay people perform sodomy. your bible also says that the races should be separated and that it's okay to have slaves, that women shouldn't cut their hair, and that it's wrong to eat shellfish, that your supposed to keep 300 concubines and sleep with your daughter. sounds like you guys have the corner on perversion and bizarre ritual!

If you think this is classically stupid, you should check the fundies coming out of the woodwork over companies in Tennessee offering domestic partner benefits!

That'll be posted on my blog next.

Cross-posted at Red State Exile.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Anatomy of a Political Hit

John Hosty was kind enough to let me post to his blog, so I am putting up an article I published last week out in the boondocks of Western Mass (where I live). Thanks to the internet it is getting extra play in places like Blue Mass Group and I have gotten some invitations to talk about it on the radio. An article I wrote last summer titled LaGuer Reconsidered explains some of the underlying problems with the case against the man Kerry Healey tried to turn into a winning campaign issue. LaGuer has maintained his innocence though 23 years of incarceration. His case is currently in the courts with a hearing scheduled for January.

Who Won? C'est LaGuer

The Anatomy Of A Political Hit
By Eric Goldscheider
November 9 2006
Valley Advocate

For more than two decades, Benjamin LaGuer has done everything in his power to get his claims that he was falsely convicted of rape into the public eye. Last month Kerry Healey turned him into a household name. What she neglected to mention, because it didn’t suit her campaign, was that real doubts about LaGuer’s guilt still linger. A challenge to his conviction is currently in the Supreme Judicial Court based on a potentially exculpatory fingerprint report that was withheld from the defense at trial and which emerged 18 years after that fact.

How did a case before the highest court in the state become a political football in the race to lead the executive branch? The answer is probably rooted in Worcester politics.

On September 20, when Deval Patrick’s convincing primary victory the previous day filled the headlines, what looked like minor machinations in a local Worcester county drama began to unfold. Gov. Mitt Romney nominated James R. Lemire, a longtime acolyte of retiring Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte, for a Superior Court judgeship. Lemire, a seemingly innocuous choice, happens to have been the prosecutor who convicted LaGuer in the trial where the fingerprint report never saw the light of day.

The Governor’s Council, which approves judicial nominees, held its hearing on the Lemire nomination on September 27. Peter Vickery, the western Massachusetts representative, surprised those attending by questioning Lemire about his role in the LaGuer case. Within hours of that hearing, Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, another reliable Conte loyalist, spoke to a local Leominster reporter and fed him a one-source story on wanting to question Patrick about comments attributed to him on, a website I have been editing for several years. The Patrick quote, which reads, “I therefore have serious misgivings about the integrity of the criminal justice system in this case, as I believe any citizen would,” had been raised briefly by the Boston Herald during the primary campaign in August. Patrick spokesman Richard Chacon quickly responded in an interview with the Sentinel and Enterprise, which covers Leominster. He defended Patrick’s interest in the case, adding that the comments stemmed from a time when the candidate worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People many years ago. The issue went away until Mazzarella resurrected it a month later.

To fully appreciate the dynamics of the LaGuer case, one has to know that through 23 years of incarceration, LaGuer has been in constant battle with Conte. The inmate became adept at asymmetrical warfare, using the media to embarrass his nemesis time and again while at the same time attracting top notch legal representation. Every time it looked like LaGuer was down for the count—even after a 2002 DNA test seemed to link him to the crime—he revived and came back with a stronger team. His current attorney, James C. Rehnquist, is the son of the late chief justice. Experts have recently gone on record to say that the DNA results look as if they stem from contaminated evidence. Through the years LaGuer won many battles, including a favorable decision by the SJC on the issue of juror racism, and the support of famous people like Elie Wiesel, William Styron, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and John Silber. LaGuer earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Boston University while in prison and won a prestigious Pen Award for his writing. But Conte always found a way to prevail in the end and keep LaGuer in prison. He blindly defended the integrity of the conviction, never once showing a willingness to look at new evidence. Now Conte is on the way out and the long-running LaGuer case is headed for arguments in the SJC. Promoting Lemire, who would not likely have kept his job as a prosecutor in the new administration, to a judgeship can be seen as a way to help insulate him from the consequences of foul play in the handling of a conviction Conte cares about deeply.

The timing of Mazzarella’s ploy to extract a statement from Patrick condemning LaGuer makes a connection to the Lemire nomination look like more than mere coincidence. Mazzarella’s credentials for speaking about the case rest on the fact that as a rookie police officer he was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the 1983 crime. He apparently accompanied the victim in the ambulance, but there is no record of his filing a report. The story Mazzarella fed to a local reporter about his concerns that as governor Patrick might give LaGuer preferential treatment appeared in print on Thursday, September 28. That afternoon the mayor went on the Howie Carr drive time radio show to begin a relentless attack on LaGuer and on Patrick’s connection to the case.

By the end of the day, Patrick crafted out a carefully worded statement saying that in his opinion “justice has been served” in the LaGuer case. Those wanting to ensure Lemire’s confirmation, which came to fruition with Vickery casting the lone dissenting vote, were undoubtedly pleased. The issue might have gone away again had two things not happened: 1) Mazzarella’s graphic and incessant recitation of the victim’s condition, combined with a linkage to Patrick, resonated with talk radio hosts and their audiences, triggering a hate-filled feeding frenzy on the airwaves. 2) In his statement, Patrick was untruthful about the extent of his involvement in the LaGuer case, repeating his characterization of it as a minor interest of more than a decade ago.

Early the next week a bombshell hit when the Boston Globe found a letter Patrick had written to the parole board on LaGuer’s behalf in 1998 and then resubmitted at a second hearing in 2000. Later that week it was revealed that Patrick had written a large check ($5,000 is the figure used, but Patrick has yet to confirm that number) in support of LaGuer’s quest for DNA testing.

With those revelations Patrick’s high-flying poll numbers right after the primary looked to be in serious jeopardy. The Healey campaign had just unveiled a TV ad lambasting Patrick for representing a Florida man and getting his death sentence for killing a police officer reduced to life in prison. The LaGuer issue must have seemed like a gift that for the next two weeks just kept on giving. The hate mongers on talk radio led the way. Robert Barry, the son-in-law of the woman LaGuer was convicted of raping, joined Mazzarella on that circuit in continuously repeating gruesome aspects of the crime in graphic detail. Barry even turned his celebrity status into a fundraising opportunity when one radio host, John DePetro, set up a way of donating to his wife, Elizabeth Barry, based on her diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The host spent hours hectoring Patrick to contribute to that fund.

The Patrick campaign seemed flummoxed by the day-in-and-day-out drubbing they were getting on the airwaves. Mazzarella demanded a meeting with the candidate and he complied. The Barry family created a mantra out of demanding an apology from him, prompting Patrick to call them and to offer his sympathy for pain the publicity around the 23-year-old crime was causing them. Robert Barry’s response was to publicly rebuke Patrick because he didn’t think his disavowal of LaGuer was strong enough. He and his wife invited television crews into their home and then endorsed Healey at a press conference where Elizabeth Barry, whose body is wasting from her disease, was wheeled in to appear with the Republican candidate.

The appearance meshed with Healey’s objective of somehow capturing the one-dimensional caricature radio hosts were painting of Patrick, basically accusing him of being in cahoots with a brutal rapist to continue torturing the victim’s family long after the crime. But Healey needed to figure out a way to bring this message to the wider public. She cut an ad harping not only on Patrick’s relationship with LaGuer, but on the fact that he dissembled when first confronted about it. This had the double effect of energizing her supporters while at the same time demoralizing Patrick’s constituency, shaken by the obvious discrepancies between his early statements on the case and the letters and financial contributions he later admitted to.

New polling numbers came out showing Healey pulling slightly ahead of Patrick among male voters, but still trailing significantly among women. That is when she made the fateful mistake of seizing on a Patrick’s on-camera statement that LaGuer “is eloquent and he is thoughtful.” Healey made it the centerpiece of her now-famous ad in which a woman enters a dimly lit parking garage. The tag line was, “Have you ever heard a woman compliment a rapist? Deval Patrick—he should be ashamed, not governor.”

Calculated to work the same magic with women voters as the incessant harping on the LaGuer connection seemed to be having among men, the ad backfired. It coincided with a report in the Boston Herald , widely assumed to be a Healey plant, insinuating that Patrick helped shield his brother-in-law from registering as a sex offender, prompting Patrick to give an impassioned statement ripping into what he called the “pathetic” tactics of his opponent, adding, “This is the politics of Kerry Healey and it disgusts me and it has to stop.” The bleeding for Patrick started to abate and the following week new polls came out showing him regaining a comfortable lead and more than half the voters having an unfavorable view of the Republican.

Healey opportunistically hitched her wagon to a powder keg and it blew up in her face. But she isn’t the first person to have been burned by coming in contact with the case of Commonwealth v. Benjamin LaGuer. The reason is that from the day LaGuer was arrested on July 15, 1983, it has represented a gross miscarriage of justice perpetuated by people with agendas that were less about getting at the truth than about winning and losing. At any time in the last 23 years Conte, the district attorney, could have taken a fresh look at new evidence that continued to emerge. Instead, he continually dug in his heels, allowing a festering injustice to build to explosive proportions.

That might explain why the press never bought into Healey’s strategy of using LaGuer as a frightful caricature. The Boston Herald turned to John Silber to counter the initial savaging of Patrick for writing on LaGuer’s behalf. It then ran a Sunday edition headline that screamed: “Healey Is a Hypocrite.” The lieutenant governor failed to engender credibility during four years in office and now she was coming off as shrill, shallow and disingenuous. Too many people in Boston’s newsrooms understood that the case against LaGuer wasn’t as clean as Healey made it out to be.

Those familiar with the police reports and hospital records know that LaGuer’s arrest was predicated on a lie. The lead detective, Ronald Carignan, settled on LaGuer based on his race and ethnicity and the circumstance that he happened to be living next door when the crime occurred. Once Carignan became fixated on LaGuer, the victim, who steadfastly denied knowing who it was who attacked her, corroborated his suspicions after her daughter Elizabeth Barry, according to the police report, “told her mother that she was going to stay in the apt (sic) and put herself up as bait” in order to entice the perpetrator to return.

From there the lies kept multiplying. Three weeks after the arrest Carignan, who has since died, told the grand jury which indicted LaGuer that the victim, who had a history of mental illness, identified him by name, something she strenuously denied under oath at the trial. Carignan even suggested that the crime had occurred in LaGuer’s apartment and said the victim was unable to appear at the hearing, neglecting to mention that she had already been discharged from the hospital.

The whole history of the case is rife with misrepresentations, distortions and missed opportunities (See: “LaGuer Reconsidered”, Valley Advocate , August 17, 2006). One that stands out is that at trial Carignan testified that he recovered only one partial fingerprint from the scene of a crime that was said to have played itself out over eight hours. Eighteen years later, in November, 2001, the report emerged showing that in fact four full fingerprints were retrieved from the base of the trimline telephone, the cord of which was used to bind the victim’s wrists, and that they belonged to someone other than LaGuer. Those prints, which the commonwealth has since lost or destroyed, are the basis of the current challenge to the verdict.

If Patrick spoke to his advisors familiar with Worcester politics, perhaps including Worcester Mayor Tim Murray, when Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella started nipping at his heals, they would probably have said that the LaGuer case has been a radioactive part of the county’s political scene for more than two decades. Patrick erred badly when he tried to make the questions about his involvement go away by immediately caving in to Mazzarella’s demands for a public repudiation of LaGuer. He further damaged his campaign by claiming that he had done nothing more than issue a statement on the order of 15 years ago. Patrick should have put the full extent of his involvement with the case on the table right away, rather than allow himself to be caught flatfooted by the drip, drip, drip of new revelations.

Healey, in latching onto what she obviously saw as an opportunity for political gain, chose to paint an entirely one-dimensional picture of LaGuer as a vicious animal—a word used over and over on the talk radio circuit— condemned not only by a 1984 jury but again by a 2002 DNA test. LaGuer became a seemingly legitimate target for a fusillade of hateful invective taken to a fever pitch. She cast him as a repository for the loathing of an entire state. Even uttering the words “eloquent” and “thoughtful” in connection with LaGuer was an act worthy of condemnation. The raw emotional impact of Healey’s divisive strategy was intoxicating. But a simple Internet search would have showed her that LaGuer’s case is currently in the courts and that four highly reputable experts have concluded that the DNA result is easily attributable to contamination. One of them, Harvard geneticist Daniel Hartl, went so far as to write, “There is, in my opinion, ample reason for a full inquiry into this case, and I hope that the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will agree.”

In the end, their handling of the LaGuer case in the heat of a political campaign didn’t do much for either candidate’s reputation. Ironically, the person who may have benefited the most from having been turned into a household name is Benjamin LaGuer himself. For 23 years his constant plea has been for people to look closely at the evidence and to concentrate on the facts. His case is in the Supreme Judicial Court, and oral arguments will likely be in January. If the one-dimensional image of him as a craven sociopath influences the outcome, Healey will have done LaGuer a tremendous disservice. If, on the other hand, his notoriety prompts the public, the press and the judicial system to take the time to study the history of the case and the issues currently at stake, the events of the last few weeks can only help his cause.

Amherst-based journalist Eric Goldscheider edits

Monday, November 13, 2006

What I Think of the Vote

Recently, the Con Con met. One of the pieces of legislation up for vote was legislation that would allow for the people of MA to vote on whether or not the question of ssm should be allowed. The politicians, instead of voting on whether or not a vote should be allowed, politicians instead voted to discuss the issue when they reconvene. Though touted as a victory, this is not a victory in the least. The question of whether or not human rights are something that can be voted on remains unanswered. I wholeheartedly state that human rights are something that should never and can never be voted on by the people. If it ever were, it would begin this nations fall down a steep and slippery slope.

But the politicians did not vote for or against allowing human rights to be voted on by the people. Politicians, knowing what was right and proper for them to do, did not act as such. They chose to try to please all sides by putting the quesdtion off. The neocons are happy, able to claim that it is not dead, to use this issue to stir up more political fervor at a later point. Those who support SSM are happy because their rights are not being voted on. By not voting against allowing the people to vote, and instead voting to address the issue when they reconvene politicians are sending a loud message. The politicians placed their own job and popularity over what is ethically and morally right for mankind.

They should have outright voted to not allow people to vote on the rights of any individual, and specifically the right to marry.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Vote on Gay Marriage Here on

UPDATED 11/15/06:
I have been contacted by a friend who has the inside scoop on what is happening behind the scenes with one of the major groups involved in the anti-gay marriage petition. I have been told that they have computer savvy volunteers who are tirelessly working to manipulate the poll on to reflect what they wish the public to see. This information has been passed on to the Boston Globe who owns the site, and people are looking into these allegations. I will update this further as need be. I am sure after the rampant fraud that has been exposed during the signature collection process of the petition that this final and desperate act to try to fool people into believing their is more support for their cause does not surprise anyone.

Original post begins here:
I am promoting this poll on in order to prove a point. If what I suspect is true, it will prove that gay marriage is in fact approved by the citizens of this state, and there is no need to drag us all into another two years of vitriol just because a few loons can't get their noses out of the Old Testament. Visit and vote, and let's just see how the vote turns out. As a side note, Massachusetts Family Institute sent out an email days ago to its followers to go to this site in order to sway the outcome, but it doesn't seem to be working. Click here.

The current battle cry of the religious right is, "LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!" I doubt even a vote from the populace would stop them from pushing their hate, but we may never know for sure if our representatives do their job correctly. There is good reason for an amendment to pass through their hands twice before going on a ballot, and weeding out potentially dangerous and illegal legislation like the anti-equality amendment it a great example of such a need.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

109 People to Thank

History was made on November 9, 2006 when 109 heroes stood up for the victims of discrimination. Gay people around the country are all celebrating thanks to the courage of 109 Senators and Representatives of the state of Massachusetts who stood up to the religious right hate machine. They voted to recess instead of considering an amendment that would ban gay marriage, and would drag the state into another two years of social upheaval. Equality cannot have exceptions, and these fine legislators know this. They understand that civil rights are not something to be voted on, and they defended the liberty that our country was founded upon in spite of the threats of reciprocity they have all suffered. Religious zealots of a terrorist fashion do not have to come from abroad, sometimes they are right in our backyard. With a steely resolve that would make any true patriot proud to be American all over again, these brave souls stood for truth, justice, and once again made Massachusetts the place where liberty is born and defended. Please make time to thank your legislators that voted to recess, and to question those who did not. Let them know that they did the right thing by turning their back on this vessel of hatred, and not giving it the dignity of their attention.

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
~Martin Luther King Jr.

The complete list of Con Con call to recess votes:

Title First Last Home City Recess?
Rep. Cory Atkins Concord Y
Rep. Demetrius Atsalis Barnstable Y
Rep. Bruce J. Ayers Quincy N
Rep. Ruth B. Balser Newton Y
Rep. John J. Binienda E. Worcester N
Rep. Daniel Bosley North Adams Y
Rep. Garrett Bradley Hingham Y
Rep. Arthur J. Broadhurst Methuen Y
Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral New Bedford Y
Rep. Jennifer M. Callahan Sutton N
Rep. Christine E. Canavan Brockton N
Rep. Gale D. Candaras Wilbraham N
Rep. Stephen R. Canessa Lakeville Y
Rep. Mark J. Carron Southbridge N
Rep. Paul C. Casey Winchester N
Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera Springfield Y
Rep. Virginia Coppola Foxborough N
Rep. Robert Correia Fall River N
Rep. Michael A. Costello Newburyport Y
Rep. Robert K. Coughlin Dedham Y
Rep. Geraldine Creedon Brockton N
Rep. Sean Curran Springfield N
Rep. Robert A. DeLeo Winthrop Y
Rep. Vinny M. deMacedo Plymouth N
Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Haverhill N
Rep. Salvatore F. DiMasi Boston Y
Rep. Paul Donato Medford N
Rep. Christopher J. Donelan Orange Y
Rep. Joseph Driscoll Jr. Braintree Y
Rep. James B. Eldridge Acton Y
Rep. Lewis G. Evangelidis Holden N
Rep. James H. Fagan Taunton N
Rep. Christopher G. Fallon Malden N
Rep. Mark Falzone Saugus Y
Rep. Robert F. Fennell Lynn Y
Rep. Michael E. Festa Melrose Y
Rep. Barry R. Finegold Andover Y
Rep. Jennifer L. Flanagan Leominster Y
Rep. David L. Flynn Bridgewater N
Rep. Linda Forry Boston Y
Rep. Gloria L. Fox Roxbury Y
Rep. John P. Fresolo Worcester N
Rep. Paul K. Frost Auburn N
Rep. William C. Galvin Canton Y
Rep. Colleen M. Garry Dracut N
Rep. Susan W. Gifford Wareham N
Rep. Anne M. Gobi Spencer N
Rep. Emile J. Goguen Fitchburg N
Rep. Thomas A. Golden Jr. Lowell N
Rep. Shirley A. Gomes South Harwich N
Rep. Mary E. Grant Beverly Y
Rep. William G. Greene Billerica N
Rep. Denis E. Guyer Dalton Y
Rep. Patricia Haddad Somerset Y
Rep. Geoffrey D. Hall Westford N
Rep. Robert S. Hargraves Groton N
Rep. Lida E. Harkins Needham Y
Rep. Bradford R. Hill Ipswich N
Rep. Kevin G. Honan Brighton Y
Rep. Donald F. Humanson Westfield N
Rep. Frank M. Hynes Marshfield N
Rep. Bradley H. Jones North Reading N
Rep. Louis L. Kafka Sharon Y
Rep. Michael Kane Holyoke N
Rep. Rachel Kaprielian Watertown Y
Rep. Jay R. Kaufman Lexington Y
Rep. John D. Keenan Salem Y
Rep. Thomas P. Kennedy Brockton Y
Rep. Kay S. Khan Newton Y
Rep. Peter V. Kocot Florence Y
Rep. Robert M. Koczera New Bedford N
Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian Newton Y
Rep. Paul Kujawski Webster N
Rep. Stephen Kulik Worthington Y
Rep. William Lantigua Lawrence N
Rep. James B. Leary Worcester Y
Rep. Stephen P. LeDuc Marlborough N
Rep. John A. Lepper Attleboro N
Rep. David Paul Linsky Natick Y
Rep. Barbara A. L'Italien Andover Y
Rep. Paul Loscocco Holliston N
Rep. Elizabeth A. Malia Jamaica Plain Y
Rep. Ronald Mariano Quincy Y
Rep. J. James Marzilli Jr. Arlington Y
Rep. James R. Miceli Wilmington N
Rep. Michael J. Moran Brighton Y Leaving office
Rep. Charles A. Murphy Burlington Y
Rep. James M. Murphy Weymouth N
Rep. Kevin J. Murphy Lowell N
Rep. David M. Nangle Lowell N
Rep. Patrick M. Natale Woburn Y
Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr. Clinton Y
Rep. Robert J. Nyman Hanover N
Rep. Thomas J. O'Brien Kingston Y
Rep. Eugene L. O'Flaherty Chelsea N
Rep. Shirley Owens-Hicks Mattapan N
Rep. Marie J. Parente Milford N Voted out of office
Rep. Matthew Patrick Falmouth Y
Rep. Anne M. Paulsen Belmont Y
Rep. Vincent A. Pedone Worcester Y
Rep. Alice H. Peisch Wellesley Y
Rep. Jeffrey D. Perry East Sandwich N
Rep. Douglas W. Petersen Marblehead Y
Rep. George N. Peterson Jr. Grafton N
Rep. Thomas M. Petrolati Ludlow N
Rep. Anthony Petruccelli East Boston Y
Rep. William J. Pignatelli Lenox Y
Rep. Elizabeth A. Poirier North Attleboro N
Rep. Karyn Polito Shrewsbury N
Rep. Susan W. Pope Wayland N
Rep. Denise Provost Somerville Y
Rep. John F. Quinn Dartmouth N
Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein Revere Y
Rep. Robert L. Rice Gardner Y
Rep. Michael J. Rodrigues Westport N
Rep. Mary S. Rogeness Longmeadow N
Rep. John H. Rogers Norwood Y
Rep. Richard J. Ross Wrentham N
Rep. Michael F. Rush West Roxbury N
Rep. Byron Rushing Boston Y
Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez Jamaica Plain Y
Rep. Tom Sannicandro Ashland Y
Rep. Angelo M. Scaccia Boston N
Rep. John Scibak South Hadley Y
Rep. Carl M. Sciortino Somerville Y
Rep. Frank Israel Smizik Brookline Y
Rep. Todd M. Smola Palmer N
Rep. Theodore C. Speliotis Danvers Y
Rep. Robert Spellane Worcester Y
Rep. Christopher N. Speranzo Pittsfield Y
Rep. Joyce A. Spiliotis Peabody N
Rep. Marie St. Fleur Dorchester Y
Rep. Harriett L. Stanley Merrimac N
Rep. Thomas M. Stanley Waltham Y
Rep. Ellen Story Amherst Y
Rep. William M. Straus Mattapoisett Y
Rep. David B. Sullivan Fall River N
Rep. Benjamin Swan Springfield Y
Rep. Kathleen M. Teahan Whitman Y
Rep. Walter F. Timilty Milton N
Rep. A. Stephen Tobin Quincy N
Rep. Timothy J. Toomey Jr. Cambridge Y
Rep. David M. Torrisi N. Andover Y
Rep. Philip Travis Rehoboth N Leaving office
Rep. Eric T. Turkington Falmouth Y
Rep. Cleon H. Turner Dennis Y
Rep. James E. Vallee Franklin N
Rep. Anthony J. Verga Gloucester N
Rep. Joseph F. Wagner Chicopee N
Rep. Brian P. Wallace Boston X
Rep. Patricia A. Walrath Stow N
Rep. Martin J. Walsh Dorchester Y
Rep. Steven M. Walsh Lynn Y
Rep. Martha Walz Boston Y
Rep. Daniel K. Webster Hanson N
Rep. James T. Welch W. Springfield Y
Rep. Alice K. Wolf Cambridge Y
Sen. Robert Antonioni Leominster Y
Sen. Edward M. Augustus Jr. Shrewsbury Y
Sen. Steven Baddour Methuen N
Sen. Jarrett Barrios Cambridge Y
Sen. Frederick Berry Peabody Y
Sen. Stephen Brewer Barre N
Sen. Scott Brown Wrentham N
Sen. Stephen J. Buoniconti Springfield N
Sen. Harriette Chandler Worcester Y
Sen. Robert Creedon Brockton N
Sen. Cynthia Creem Newton Y
Sen. Susan Fargo Lincoln N
Sen. John Hart Boston Y
Sen. Robert Havern Arlington Y
Sen. Robert Hedlund Weymouth N
Sen. Patricia D. Jehlen Somerville Y
Sen. Brian Joyce Milton Y
Sen. Michael Knapik Westfield Y
Sen. Brian Lees East Longmeadow Y
Sen. Thomas McGee Lynn Y
Sen. Joan Menard Somerset Y
Sen. Mark Montigny New Bedford Y
Sen. Richard Moore Uxbridge N
Sen. Michael Morrissey Quincy N
Sen. Therese Murray Plymouth Y
Sen. Andrea Nuciforo Pittsfield Y
Sen. Robert O'Leary Brewster N
Sen. Mark Pacheco Taunton N
Sen. Steven Panagiotakos Lowell N
Sen. Pamela Resor Acton Y
Sen. Stanley Rosenberg Amherst Y
Sen. Karen Spilka Framingham Y
Sen. Bruce Tarr Gloucester N
Sen. James E. Timilty Walpole Y
Sen. Richard Tisei Wakefield Y
Sen. Steven Tolman Brighton Y
Sen. Robert Travaglini Boston N
Sen. Susan Tucker Andover N
Sen. Marian Walsh West Roxbury Y
Sen. Dianne Wilkerson Boston Y

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gay Equality on Horizon

When trying to understand why not to bother with any more anti-gay marriage sentiment, here are some quick facts to consider:

-Prior to the commencement of signature gathering for the anti-gay marriage petition, Arno Political Consultants was paid approximately $80,000 to bring in out of state workers here who were paid by the amount of signatures they collected.

-We are expected to believe that these people were going to fairly and honestly collect signatures even though we knew that many of these workers had criminal records including fraud.

-almost 50,000 signatures have been thrown out due to fraud, and now there is an ongoing criminal investigation into this fraud.

-The supporters of this amendment still say they have 170,000 signatures instead of 123,000+ in an overt attempt to mislead people.

-Although out of state thugs collected a vast majority of these signatures instead of our own citizens, and in spite of the fact that fraud has been exposed, this petition is still heralded as the will of the people in another attempt to deceive.

No arguably sound justification has ever been given for denying gay marriage. The campaign against it is one based on emotions, lies, and fear rather than logic. We need to be ever mindful of the temptation of imposing our values on others, lest we create such social tyranny as that which we once fled so many generations ago to form this free land. In standing up for gay marriage you stand up for the principle of liberty that makes this country great. We are strong not in spite of our individualities, but because of them. There is room in America for all beliefs to co-exist peacefully, allowing us to learn things from one another and grow, rather than stagnate thinking we already have all the answers. No one religion has the right to dictate what is morally best for the rest of us, even if that opinion is shared with nearly everyone.

By honoring the constitutional mandate separating church from state, we keep the hope alive that all people are in fact equal, at least in the eyes of the government. Being gay is not a crime and it is high time we start making sure it is not treated as one. Due process is required of all courts wishing to impose judgment. Where is the due process of telling someone the only reason that you can’t get married is that you are gay? There is no honor in supporting the fears of a group of people who feel threatened and offended by their neighbor’s liberty.

Living a gay lifestyle in a straight world is hard enough without the added indignity of government sanctified discrimination. All the gay community is asking is that the government represents all of us equally. People are free to follow their own beliefs uninhibited by their fellow citizens; there need be no compromise on this. Those who say that the gay community is trying to impose their will upon you are lying, and they do so to try to get you to act out of instinct instead of logic. The citizens of this state are better than that. They are a savvy crowd that resents being lied to, and they have a history of leading the country and world in social progress.

I ask you to think for a moment if you were ever caught in a situtation where you felt different, and out of place with the others around you. Did anyone come to your defense, or comfort you when you felt this way? Now is the time for you to repay that good deed with one of your own. Reject hate and tell your representatives that you want the anti-gay marriage amendment killed, and you want them to get back to more important matters. If you don’t our state will be plunged into another year of vitriol over this issue, and all for not. Anyone who has an in depth understanding of law knows that this amendment cannot get past the Supreme Court because it creates two classes of people within the gay community. It allows gay people who are already married recognition, but denies future marriages. This is not an allowable situation. Even if you disagree with my point of view you should still be able to admit that there is no wisdom in an act of futility. Tell your representatives not to waste any more time on this amendment. Its time to move on, and we need to start talking about this with our friends so that anyone who is confused about the truth can be better informed.

We have all lived to see the folly of inaction when we don’t take our responsibility as citizens seriously. We have also just recently seen what we can do if we rise up and take a stand. Stand with me on this issue and have the pleasure, the honor, of being able to tell your future generations how you helped end the last bastion of discrimination in American history. Your place in history is not with the like of George Wallace and Strom Thurman. I call on you to stand up for what is right on principle alone. You don’t need a vested interest in this issue, delivering justice is its own reward. Its all up to those of you who have not yet spoken on this issue, the many in the middle caught in the crossfire. I trust in you to become vocal advocates for equality because you know in your hearts its the right thing to do. Remember that Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”

George Washington, 1790

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Haters, Take the Short Bus Home

After the dust is settled and now that the bloodless revolution of 2006 is over, it is easier for me to make a list of those who stayed in office and are opponents of marriage equality than it is to make a list of it's supporters, but here is a list of who won in the House and Senate throughout Massachusetts:

In the Senate:

Benjamin Downing (Dem)
James Timilty (Dem)
Mark Montigny (Dem)
Robert O'Leary (Dem)
Gale Candaras (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Stanley Rosenberg (Dem)
Steven Panagiotakos (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Susan Fargo (Dem)
Brian Joyce (Dem)
Robert Hedlund (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Dianne Wilkerson (Dem)
Marian Walsh (Dem)
Harriette Chandler (Dem)
Edward Augustus (Dem)

In the House:

Cleon Turner (Dem)
Demetrius Atsalis (Dem)
Sarah Peake (Dem)
Eric Turkington (Dem)
Denis Guyer (Dem)
Jay Barrows (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
John Lepper (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Steven D'Amico (Dem)
Robert Correia (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
William Straus (Dem)
Robert Koczera (Dem)
Stephen Canessa (Dem)
Antonio Cabral (Dem)
Harriett Stanley (Dem)
Mary Grant (Dem)
Joyce Spiliotis (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Linda Campbell (Dem)
Barbara L'Italien (Dem)
Rosemary Sandlin (Dem)
Joseph Wagner (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Sean Curran (Dem)
Cheryl Rivera (Dem)
Angelo Puppolo (Dem)
Peter Kocot (Dem)
Robert Hargraves (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
David Linsky (Dem)
Peter Koutoujian (Dem)
Thomas Conroy (Dem)
Thomas Golden (Dem)
William Brownsberger (Dem)
Alice Wolf (Dem)
Stephen Smith (Dem)
Rachel Kaprielian (Dem)
James Eldridge (Dem)
James Murphy (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Louis Kafka (Dem)
Susan Gifford (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Robert Nyman (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Daniel Webster (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Allen McCarthy (Dem)
Thomas Calter (Dem)
Sal DiMasi (Dem)
Marie St. Fleur (Dem)
Michael Moran (Dem)
Lewis Evangelidis (GOP)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Stephen DiNatale (Dem)
Jennifer Flanagan (Dem)
Anne Gobi (Dem)Voted against gay marriage in 2004
Geraldo Alicea (Dem)
John Fernandes (Dem)
James Leary (Dem)

I am not sure how you count these votes, but I see only 15 opponents of gay marriage still around and able to vote on this amendment that were here and voted in 2004. The legislators would be doing us a tremendous service by killing the amendment to deny marriage equality, as it would save us from another two years of vitriol. Not one more day should be spent on this issue, but it will take just one more to end it for good. Call your representative and let him know that you don't want our state to waste any more time on this hateful amendment.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

About BlogNetNews of Massachusetts

There is a new service out there for bloggers, and I am excited to share this great free service with those who have blogs or like to keep informed. On their main page they have a description of what this is, so I will defer to their well worded statement:

You've seen aggregators before. BlogNetNews jumps a generation ahead. We're not interested in reprinting your posts and we don't have an ideological ax to grind. We are going to use your feeds and the feeds of top bloggers from your online community to create new content and information that will organize this slice of the Internet making it work better for bloggers and their readers.
Our launch version offers these features:

The day's top news based solely on what news stories Mass bloggers are linking to -- no matter what mainstream news source they're in.
A micro search engine that will only search the Mass blogosphere.
A quick guide to the hottest blog comment sections in Mass.
A quick index of the day's most active Mass blogs.
A guide to the blog posts most link to by other Mass bloggers.
In one place, in one minute, you'll get an update on what's going on across the blogosphere. And your readers will be able to find the best Mass content, not based on random voters or some editors choices, but based on the real actions of Mass bloggers and their readers.

Our theory is simple: We think our tools will help new blog readers find the best content fast. A good experience means they'll come back for more. We also think a quick grasp of what's going on in the blogosphere will help bloggers get more out of the time they spend blogging.

I hope you're interested in what we're doing. In order to keep improving the site, we want your feedback. Write directly to me at

Friday, November 03, 2006

Kerry Healey, You don't love MA

Kerry Healey, You don't love MA

This question was about how Mitt Romney has been going around bad mouthing the state of Massachusetts while abroad, and whether or not Kerry Healey would stand up to him, and ask him to stop. Twice asked, she would not answer. The crowd turned on her like any other loyal citizens would when faced with the sudden realization that someone who wants to lead them won't stand up for them. Christy Mihos says it all when responding to her evasions, "Then you don't love Massachusetts!"

Healey has not campaigned on her merits achieved, or told us how she will keep all the promises she's making. She dragged our state into one of the most vicious smear campaigns ever seen in the entire union. Bringing insult to injury, she would rather keep in good favor with Mitt Romney than stand up for her constituents. Kerry Healey does not deserve to lead us, and her actions are not honorable. Even when faced with a mountain of evidence that Ben LaGuer may be innocent, she STILL used this man as a weapon against Deval Patrick in the last debate. For shame Kerry, in the words of Deval Patrick, "You're better than this." Just for the record, the next time you want to pack the audience with rehearsed supporters, like it seems you did in the last debate, try not to let them sound so contrived. Everybody suddenly just starts chanting "Kerry" all at the same time? They all act as one each and every time there is an opportunity to be disruptive? How dumb do you have to be not to see right through this misrepresentation? What a sad and telling act of desperation.

My hope is that after this race she will drop out of existence as a politician, and the only times I will see her from then on is in places she can do no more harm. Kerry Healey is the poster girl for a culture of corruption, spinning her own version of the truth, then accusing Mr. Patrick of misleading people about being in the courtroom. She knows quite well that Deval Patrick job was not in the courtroom, but at a level much higher, where important decisions about how to prosecute tough crimes are made. She is counting her lies not catching up to her until after the election, and on you, the people of Massachusetts, to decide things from your emotions rather than with truth and logic. My one fear is that if other states are any indication of how easily people allow themselves to be fooled, she may be right. What's it going to be people? Are you going to let Kerry Healey, lie cheat, and bully her way into our corner office?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Road to Healing through Halloween

This has mainly been a political site, but I wish to shake things up a little. I hope no one minds too much. After all it is called “Live, Love and Learn”, and this is an example of me attempting to do so.

Halloween has been special to our family for many years. I still remember early in my youth being excited about Halloween more than any other holiday. My Grandmother would turn her garage into a small haunted house for children in the neighborhood and friends that would be able to accompany me to her house. The memory of my Aunt opening her eyes while lying in a coffin is still with me. As the years have went by, I took the tradition of haunted houses and now my family comes to my house to put together a place I hope children will remember for many years to come.

As I’ve put together our haunted house, the past years I’ve always excluded a certain member of my family and her husband. About 10 years ago there was a huge argument where I threatened her husband and my sister said that she hates our family. At that point I made certain that I would no longer speak to her, or even be around her, no matter what the occasion was for. As I look back on the argument I could have easily handled it better if I had just tried to be more diplomatic about the situation, but diplomacy was not an attribute I used very well in that time.

As of late, I’ve started coming around to the idea of forgiving my sister (or maybe she needs to forgive me) in hopes of having a more complete family, but I have found it difficult to say everything that I know needs to be said. I still have much to work on.

This year I must admit, I wasn’t in the spirit of Halloween. I didn’t feel like going through the effort of putting the house together and taking time off of work and other ventures to complete our annual undertaking. My wife persevered and forced my hand to get it done. She said it was for her benefit, but as I look now, she did it because I needed it. So we went and got our place set up and ready for a haunted house. I invited my sister and her husband to come and be a part of our program. It was a little tense at first, but as the night progressed, smiles became more natural.

With my sister on board, along with help from other family members, my son’s friends and help from some local children we had a great night. I let my sister do my regular job of being the guide through the house. With so much help available it allowed me the freedom to step back and do what I really like to do; take pictures. I took pictures of everyone I saw that I could get, whether they were actors for us or just families wanting to see what we did this year. My brother-in-law started off behind the scenes, but as he saw the fun everyone was having he became a center figure in our house. He grabbed the chain saw yelling and chasing people from our back yard. I think he ended up having a good time despite the tensions between us.

Halloween became part of the healing process for my sister and me. We still have a ways to go before the trust we once had can be fully realized, but the road to healing can take many turns.

Gay Marriage Fears Laid to Rest

My friend John emailed me an article from the Wall Street Journal this morning that I wanted to share. The primary drive against gay marriage comes from the religious right. Knowing America's Constitution provides against putting religious beliefs into law, they have decided to try to scare people into voting against gay marriage. They say that if gay marriage is made legal it will create a slippery slope effect and we will have people marrying their dogs, and other such strange situations. Divorce is supposed to increase, heterosexual marriage is supposed to decline, out of wedlock children and STD's are supposed to increase. Society itself is supposed to come to the brink of destruction if we allow two people in love to marry, settle down together, and have equal benefits from the government if they are of the same sex. Sound silly? It is:

"Seventeen years after recognizing same-sex relationships in Scandinavia there are higher marriage rates for heterosexuals, lower divorce rates, lower rates for out-of-wedlock births, lower STD rates, more stable and durable gay relationships, more monogamy among gay couples, and so far no slippery slope to polygamy, incestuous marriages, or "man-on-dog" unions."