Seth Moulton’s Insurrection Against Nancy Pelosi Seems Half-Baked –
Weekly Recap of Beacon Hill

Printed from:

By Craig Sandler

He was in Amesbury this week, not Northampton or Leicester, but U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s rhetoric about changing the House had shades of stereotypical stoner-speak when it came to the new direction he’s trying to point his colleagues.

We need new leadership with a new voice, Moulton asserted. And that leadership should take the form of? Um … um … , seemed to be Moulton’s answer.

That lack of clarity, or specifics anyway, seemed to drive the sharp backlash against the Massachusetts maverick, who weathered a wave of national rebuke from within his party for daring to push for an alternative to Nancy Pelosi of California, who’s poised to re-assume the House speakership after Democrats took back that chamber Nov. 6.

Moulton said that alternative would be different from Pelosi, presumably meaning not as old, or tied to a Democratic establishment that lost the House in the 2010 midterms. That alternative would be free of the baggage of past mistakes and defeats. That alternative would be … would be … um …

Again, that’s what seemed to rankle people.

While everyone gets the Ayanna Pressley/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dynamic, Moulton (D-Salem) and Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and the other Never-Pelosis could not name a clear and charismatic challenger. The most-mentioned possible alternative, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, wound up dropping out of the running and backing Pelosi in exchange for an appointment to a committee chairmanship.

Before Fudge lined up behind Pelosi, Moulton and company released a letter signed by 16 Democrats, who could deny Pelosi the speakership if they voted no on the floor in January. But as the week progressed, it became clear that the rebellion was soft, and Moulton’s #fivewhiteguys were taking the worst of the intraparty give-and-take over the progressive/establishment split.

A vocal contingent of Pelosi supporters attended Moulton’s Amesbury town hall Monday, shouting “No!” back at him as he called for an end to leadership-by-loyalty and more diverse, dynamic direction setting.

So all in all, as much fuss and attention as was accorded the long-awaited opening of retail marijuana facilities Tuesday, Amesbury on Monday was really where Massachusetts generated unexpected excitement this week.

The opening of recreational pot shops in Leicester and Northampton was, appropriately, mellow. There were no surprises – which is just what the Cannabis Control Commission was aiming for.

Weed lovers lined up in the early-morning rain to be among the first to acquire Opening Day doses of Arcata Trainwreck or Tangerine Haze. Public safety officials and members of the Cannabis Control Commission assured reporters they’ll do all they can to keep THC-laced “strawberry-flavored chewy bites”, “delectable Belgian dark chocolate bars,” and chocolate-chip brownies out of the hands of kids.

The marijuana industry is projected to generate a billion dollars a year in sales by 2021. Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steve Hoffman told reporters, “I think you’re going to see, every couple of weeks, a couple of new stores and not just stores, but cultivation sites and manufacturing facilities.”

That new business is expected to generate $250 million in state tax money eventually, and Education Secretary James Peyser said this week he’s optimistic that some of those dollars will wind up improving instruction in underperforming school districts.

Not that the pot money is dedicated to schools, but Peyser told State House News Service he’s optimistic about an ed-funding reform package getting to the governor in the coming legislative session. A 2015 report found education is underfunded in Massachusetts by north of $1 billion, and most advocates believe the time has come to revise the formula that disperses state education aid so as to even out inequities in local funding ability.

Students in the state’s largest district expressed their policy beliefs in action Monday, staging a walkout from classes in Boston to demand a halt to pending school closures and that more be done to quell the gun violence that is still claiming young lives.

“This isn’t normal, it isn’t normal at all,” protest organizer Monica Cannon-Grant told reporters. “We are calling out the names of homicide victims. They need to be heard and they need to be acknowledged. All 43 from this past year.” The mayor’s office had no comment on the protest.

While state officials warned people to mind the cold and drive safe over the busy travel days that Thanksgiving week customarily brings, they also took a longer view of their challenges. WSP USA was named the engineering firm to conduct feasibility planning for an East-West rail link tying Boston to the western environs of Massachusetts — perhaps out to exotic Pittsfield. WSP has worked on projects like One World Trade Center and Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, and is currently helping to connect north Texas and Houston by high-speed rail.

Meanwhile, with 1.5 million trips about to be taken over Massachusetts travel infrastructure, Chris Dempsey of the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts told the state Department of Transportation board the time has come to deploy congestion pricing. That’s when tolls are structured to reward people for hitting the highway at off-peak times.

State House News Service hopes you and yours enjoyed a restful and delicious Thanksgiving! We are grateful for your support and appreciative of having a sophisticated and thoughtful readership.

STORY OF THE WEEK:  While he accurately measured the modicum of discontentment with Pelosi’s reassumption of the speaker’s chair, Moulton’s approach left many colleagues wishing he could find a way to relax, just as a new option for doing so became legal in his home state.

SONG OF THE WEEK: Whose House is it, anyway? Speaker Pelosi says she knows, the commotion kicked up by Moulton notwithstanding.