Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dodd-Peterson debate liveblog

Summary: The biggest change, the biggest difference between these candidates is not their beliefs, but their focus. Tim Dodd talked about people -- people with whom he's worked, people he's met on the campaign trail, people he's helped as selectmen. George Peterson talked about laws, bills, funds, taxes, budgets, and programs. It's an interesting take on their viewpoints. After 16 years of looking at line items and categories, that's what Peterson seems to see when he thinks of the 9th Worcester district. After years as a selectman and a teacher, Dodd sees the people next to him, with whom he works. He seems to want to represent the district, not facilitate it.

7:15 - It's a lot colder outside than it seemed on the way to the car. Standing in the cold holding a sign is proof.

7:30 - Dodd supporters outnumbering Peterson backers. Peterson sign-holders head in first. Small victory.

7:45 - Sheriff's debate starting first. Evangelides, the Republican sheriff candidate, couldn't be bothered to show up.'s a "prior commitment", which comes in second to "more time with his family" on the list of bulls--t political excuses. The Democrat (Foley) and the unenrolled candidate (Nicholas) came. Both are law enforcement professionals. I'm reluctant to comment further as someone unfamiliar with this race.

8:10 - Break time. Foley lays into Evangelides (not by name) for ducking the big issues by skipping the debate. Dodd and Peterson are up in a few. At least half the crowd leaves.

8:15 - Off we go! Peterson's up first with his opening which commences with the pre-Nixon days. He reads it from a paper in front of him. Peterson's been married for 34 years -- good for him! He's also got kids. I just have no idea why he's running for office.

Dodd's opening begins with thank yous to people in the debate, including Rep. Peterson. Calls himself a "citizen legislator" who wouldn't take per diems or a salary raise. Talks about the constituents in each of his four towns.

8:20 - First question asks "what kind of legislator would you be?" Dodd speaks about availability to constituents and would be a full-time legislator. He earned a doctorate while teaching. How many legislators do we have with doctorates? Methinks not enough. Rep. Peterson is full-time, and speaks about constituent services, constant meetings on constituent issues.

8:24 - "Name a concrete proposal you have to create jobs/implemented to create jobs". For Peterson, the answer -- surprise! -- is to cut taxes. The US Chamber of Commerce would be so proud. He's against the excise and income tax, and probably refuses to accept the "Poor Tax" Chance Card when he plays Monopoly. Dodd speaks about his proposal for a district-wide task force to bridge the 2 chambers of commerce in this district that would include local small business owners. Peterson protests that although Massachusetts unemployment has gone down, but we've lost jobs so don't think we aren't in a "terrible situation in this economy". DOOM!

8:26 - "Name a concrete proposal you would implement/have implemented to improve education...touch on a response to the Chapter 70 formula question". Peterson is proud to continue funding through the "Ed reform formula", even though they haven't followed through with the commitment. So, like all state legislators, he brags about how awesome they are at defending local aid. Peterson dodges the Chapter 70 question. This is an easy question for Dodd, as he's in the classroom every day. He knows this law inside and out, and talks about revisiting the charter school funding formula. This formula treats student dollars differently depending on which type of school to which the student transfers.

8:31 - Term limits and pensions. Dodd commits to a five-term/ten year limit of service. Constitutional term limits are "murky water", but he believes in citizen legislators. Defends the idea of hard-working people earning pensions, but continuing Governor Patrick's work against loopholes. Peterson does not, and did not support term limits. Rep. Peterson talks about unfunded pensions, but believes that anyone who pays into a pension system should get it back. Not much daylight between the two of them on this one.

8:35 - Position on ballot questions. Peterson says YES, NO, NO. Claims "double taxation" and dismisses the idea of using those funds for fighting addictions, which is a "gimmick". Calls for reform on Chapter 40B. Supports a sales tax rollback to 5%, but to 3% as per the question. Dodd says NO, NO, NO. People fighting alcohol addiction need the help. Peterson says that raising the sales tax gives these programs too much money.

8:42 - To can you have a "fresh perspective" if most legislators are Democrats? Dodd responds that being a selectman and a teacher gives him everyday contact with the issues, which has resulted in the plans mentioned on his website. To Peterson...three bills he proposed to help the district. Peterson doesn't/can't mention three bills. Everything is everyone else's fault. But government is bad, and there aren't enough Republicans. Oh, government is bad, except when I'm getting all sorts of money for the district -- government is bad when it helps other people, I guess.

8:45 - Peterson asks Dodd "what is the fresh perspective? Can you define it?" Dodd answers that it is not new issues, but rather new ideas. For him, it includes putting bottle bill redemption funds for teaching arts and physical education.

Dodd asks Peterson about Charlie Baker's term limits plan to limit legislators to ten years. Karyn Polito introduced 46 bills, George Peterson passed one bill to rename a road in Upton. So what idea do you have that you could actually done? Peterson talks about restoring the funding for the underground storage tank fund, but he's busy playing defense. Admits that as a legislator, he doesn't have a legislative record.

8:51 - Closing statements. Peterson comes out against taxes and spending, and calls for God to bless the district and America. Dodd again offers energy and experience as a "citizen legislator" bringing new ideas to the district.

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