The Mass Scorecard

 

Presentation to

the Stoughton Democratic Town Committee

March 11, 2004

 

by

Jesse Gordon

(chair, Progressive Democrats of Cambridge)

and Rebekah Gewirtz

(chair, Progressive Democrats of Somerville)

 

 

2003 Action Agenda Amendment (passed 60%-40%)................ 2

2003 Action Agenda Resolution............................................... 3

Proposed 2004 Party Charter Amendment................................ 4

2004 Party Charter Amendment Petition.................................... 5

Sample Mass Scorecard (Rep. Jay Kaufman)............................ 6-7

Votes used on Mass Scorecard................................................ 8-11

Votes not used on Mass Scorecard.......................................... 12-13

Criteria for selecting votes........................................................ 14

Frequently Asked Questions..................................................... 15-20

 

 

 


2003 Platform Accountability Amendment

 

We propose to vote on an amendment to the 2003-04 Massachusetts Democratic Party Action Agenda. 

 

Under the “Longer Term” section of the Action Agenda, entitled “Involvement and Outreach in our Political Process”, after the opening statement, which reads: “We know that public cynicism and disillusionment with politics creates a lack of participation, which is a threat to our democratic system.  Therefore, we call for: ”

 

after which we propose to insert:

 

(1) “Promoting accountability to the Party Platform and reinforcing the Party’s commitment to social and economic justice, by publishing a ‘scorecard’ by March 1 of each year, indicating how Democratic legislators voted on 10 fundamental issues from the current Party Platform.”

 

 

Signature                                Name                                      Address                                              City

 

 

(passed in 2003, 60%-40%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Platform Accountability Resolution

 

WHEREAS the Progressive Democrats of Somerville, who authored this resolution, are a group of elected delegates, add-on delegates and alternates to the 2003 State Democratic Convention and,

 

WHEREAS we, and those undersigned, are committed to bringing greater strength to the Democratic Party and supporting the rejuvenation of the state party by emphasizing our core values and issues and,

 

WHEREAS we are committed to economic and social justice as called for in the Democratic Party Platform and,

 

WHEREAS many elected Democrats in the State Legislature fail to adhere to several areas of the party platform and,

 

WHEREAS one example is Tax Policy, in which the party platform states that “provisions of tax relief [should be] targeted to working families” BUT Democratic state representatives alone voted against tax relief targeted to working families (the Earned Income Tax Credit) by a vote of 73-24, on July 13, 1999, and

 

WHEREAS the party platform’s Tax Policy also states that “we emphatically reject state or federal tax policies that redirect…public resources into the hands of the few, or create windfalls for the wealthy” BUT when called upon to close loopholes in the capital gains tax Democratic state representatives alone voted 80 to 36 favoring loopholes, on April 30,2001, and

 

WHEREAS the party platform’s Education Policy states that “we believe education must be a top priority at all levels of government, and we reject policies that direct funds away from children and the programs in our public schools to finance political promises of tax reductions to unrelated purposes” BUT, instead of fully funding education, Democratic state representatives alone defeated a move to freeze the regressive Cellucci/Swift tax rollback by a vote of 72 to 44, on November 21, 2001, and

 

WHEREAS Article Six, Section five of the Charter of the Democratic Party says “… every Democratic committee member, every Democratic nominee, and every official elected as the Democratic nominee shall adhere to the national, state…platform…in all official statements and actions” BUT many Democrats are failing to do so, and

 

WHEREAS such demonstrated and prolonged disregard for the Party Platform continues to hinder our ability to elect a strong Democrat into the Governor’s Office and has contributed to four successive terms of Republican leadership.

 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the State Democratic Party will produce a yearly progress report on “How Democratic are the Democrats” by March 1st on all Democratic members of the House and Senate relative to consistency with the State Party Platform. This shall be done by calculating ten key votes each year and publicizing how each State Senator and Representative voted. This information will allow us to hold our Democratic leaders accountable to the values of the Party.  We believe emphasizing the issues that distinguish the Democratic Party from the Republican Party will reverse the trend among core Democratic voters – women, working people, African Americans, immigrants, the young – to remain unenrolled and will help us to better attract new voters and activists to the Party.  Our credibility as a Party of the People depends on our consistent practice of our core principles and values.  


Proposed 2004 Party Charter Amendment

 

THE PARTY CHARTER CURRENTLY SAYS:

ARTICLE SIX: State Convention
SECTION V.

ADHERENCE TO PLATFORM BY DEMOCRATIC OFFICIALS

 

The most recent Democratic platform and/or agenda is the official
position of the Democratic Party. Every Democratic committee
member, every Democratic nominee, and every official elected as the
Democratic nominee shall adhere to the national, state, and any
local platform, in that order of priority, in all official statements and actions.

Failure to do so shall not result in any removal or loss
of rights within the Party, but may be publicized by resolutions or
other appropriate action of any Party convention, conference,
committee, or caucus.

TO WHICH WE PROPOSE TO ADD THE FOLLOWING:

PLATFORM SCORECARD

a. The Democratic Party shall annually implement a "scorecard" of
legislative roll call votes for votes which directly relate to the Party Platform.

b. The scorecard shall include at least 10 votes, and a score
indicating the percentage of votes in which each legislator voted
in accordance with the party platform.

c. Legislators shall be provided a means to add comments explaining
their votes.


d. The selection of votes to include on the scorecard, and their
interpretation regarding the party platform, shall be determined by
a subcommittee of the Public Policy Committee.

e. The public release of the scorecard shall be completed by March
1 of each year, except 2004 in which the public release shall be
completed by August 1.



2004 Party Charter Amendment Petition

 

We support a vote to add the following to Article 6 Section 5 of the Party Charter:

PLATFORM SCORECARD

A. The Democratic Party shall annually implement a "scorecard" of  legislative roll call votes for votes which directly relate to the Party Platform.

B. The scorecard shall include at least 10 votes, and a score indicating the percentage of votes in which each legislator voted in accordance with the party platform.

C. Legislators shall be provided a means to add comments explaining their votes.

D. The selection of votes to include on the scorecard, and their interpretation regarding the party platform, shall be determined by a subcommittee of the Public Policy Committee.

E. The public release of the scorecard shall be completed by March 1 of each year, except 2004 in which the public release shall be completed by August 1.

Signature                                Name                                      Address                                              City

 

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9.

 

10.

 


 

2003 Mass Scorecard for State Representative Jay Kaufman

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A DRAFT WEBSITE NOT READY YET FOR PUBLIC USE

Photo of Legislator

 

MassScorecard logo

Democrat representing Fifteenth Middlesex

Office: 489

Phone: (617) 722-2552

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: http://www.state.ma.us/legis/member/jrk1.htm

 

 

Fundamental Issue in MassDems' Party Platform
(Click for full text of platform section)

Summary of related issue put to vote
(Click for House Journal references)

This Rep's vote on this issue

Party platform on this issue

Part I: Families & Children

Jul 10, 2003:Veto override of $200K reduction to blind job program

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

 

Jul 10, 2003:Veto override of federal school breakfast supplement

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

 

Jul 10, 2003:Veto override of $900K for disability & mentoring aid

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part II: Education

May 6, 2003:3-year moratorium on charter schools

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

 

Jun 4, 2003:Allow municipal meals tax, in addition to state meals tax

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

 

Jul 14, 2003:Exempting two-way bilingual programs from English-only rules

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part III: Health Care

Jul 8, 2003:Veto override of $10M cut in the uncompensated care pool

Kaufman: NO

Platform: YES

 

Jul 10, 2003:Veto override of "Turning 22" mental disability program

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES


 

Part IV: Economic Growth

May 1, 2003:Defeating corporate tax disclosure

Kaufman: NO

Platform: NO

 

May 1, 2003:Extending corporate tax credit 5 years

Kaufman: NO

Platform: NO

 

May 5, 2003:Requiring workfare for mothers of 2- to 6-year-olds

Kaufman: NO

Platform: NO

 

Jul 16, 2003:allowing parents on welfare to go back to school

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part V: Fiscal Responsibility

Apr 30, 2003:Borrow $300 million to offset the budget deficit via bonds

Kaufman: NO

Platform: NO

 

Apr 30, 2003:Raising the income tax to 5.95% to offset the budget deficit

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part VI: Safety & Justice

Jul 10, 2003:Veto override of Mass Correctional Legal Services

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part VII: Housing

(No votes on which to base response)

Part VIII: Environment

Jul 8, 2003:Veto override of reduced fees for blood lead level testing

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part IX: Political Reform

(No votes on which to base response)

Part X: Worker Rights

Jul 16, 2003:Early retirement for cases of MWRA-work-related cancer

Kaufman: YES

Platform: YES

Part XI: America & the World

(No votes on which to base response)

Percentage of votes in 2003 in accord with Democratic Party Platform:

94%


Massachusetts House of Representatives -- Vote Descriptions

Veto override of $200K reduction to blind job program

Platform indicates YES based on Part I: Families & Children

Vote number 251 on Budget Veto Override on July 10, 2003

"Override Gov. Romney's veto of a Budget Line Item which reduced by $200,000 the funding for the Ferguson Industries for the Blind, which employs blind individuals as well as providing them an opportunity for socialization and a chance to mingle with peers, learn daily living skills and gain a feeling of independence.

Relevant platform section: PART I: FAMILIES & CHILDREN, DIVERSITY & COMMUNITY: Persons with Disabilities: ""We reaffirm our support for The Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability, and for efforts to bring the Commonwealth into full ADA compliance. We believe state assistance should be made more readily available for community-based care, and should not be inappropriately biased toward institutional settings."" "

Veto override of federal school breakfast supplement

Platform indicates YES based on Part I: Families & Children

Vote number 252 on Budget Veto Override on July 10, 2003

Override Gov. Romney's veto of a Budget Line Item which eliminated a state supplement to the federally-funded school breakfast program whereby all eligible children shall be provided free, nutritious breakfasts at no cost to them.

Relevant platform section: PART I: FAMILIES & CHILDREN, DIVERSITY & COMMUNITY: No Child Left Behind: "We believe that young people are our most precious resource, and we see inherent worth and promise in every child. Ours is truly the Party that seeks to “Leave No Child Behind.” We endorse, therefore, the goals established under The Children’s Defense Fund initiative of that name, to ensure every child a healthy start [which includes CDF's support of school breakfast programs]."

Veto override of $900K for disability & mentoring aid

Platform indicates YES based on Part I: Families & Children

Vote number 254 on Budget Veto Override on July 10, 2003

Override Gov. Romney's reduction of a Budget Line Item which cut: $99,000 for Special Olympics Massachusetts; $304,000 for Work, Inc. and $500,000 for Best Buddies Massachusetts [two programs for job training of people with disabilites].

Relevant platform section: PART I: FAMILIES & CHILDREN, DIVERSITY & COMMUNITY: Persons with Disabilities: “We believe state assistance should be made more readily available for community-based care, and should not be inappropriately biased toward institutional settings.”

3-year moratorium on charter schools

Platform indicates YES based on Part II: Education

Vote number 88 on H.4000 on May 6, 2003

"Would require 3 yr moratorium and empower commission to study feasibility of charter schools

Relevant section of platform: PART II: EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND OPPORTUNITY: Full Funding: ""We call upon the state to change funding of Commonwealth Charter schools to ensure that funds are not drained from established public schools."" "


 

Allow municipal meals tax, in addition to state meals tax

Platform indicates YES based on Part II: Education

Vote number 122 on Section 100 on June 4, 2003

"Any city or town shall be authorized to impose a local excise tax upon the sale of meals, of 1% of the total price thereof. The local excise tax imposed shall be paid by the vendor in the same manner as the excise tax due the commonwealth. All sums received shall at least quarterly be distributed, credited and paid by the state treasurer to each city or town. [Provides a new revenue source for cities and towns to pay for schools and other local services].

Relevant platform section: PART II: EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND OPPORTUNITY: Full Funding: ""We believe education must be a top priority at all levels of government, and we reject policies that direct funds away from the children and the programs in our public schools to finance political promises of tax reductions or to other unrelated purposes. We support just and equitable funding mechanisms that provide for vibrant public schools in all communities."""

Exempting two-way bilingual programs from English-only rules.

Platform indicates voting YES based on Part IV: Economic Growth, Jobs & Security

Vote number 266 on Budget Veto Override Section 209 on July 14, 2003

Gov. Romney vetoed budget section 210, which says. “Section 4 of MGL chapter 71A is hereby further amended to add:— “Foreign language classes for children who already know English, 2-way bilingual programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12 and special education programs for physically or mentally impaired students shall be unaffected.” [MGL chapter 71A requires English-only classroom teaching. Section 210 would exempt “2-way classes” in which some students are native English speakers and some are non-native English speakers. A vote to override would continue to allow that type of bilingual education although foreign-language classes without native English-speaking students would still be disallowed.]

Part II: Education, Training, And Opportunity -- Excellence, Equality and Community: “We reaffirm our support for classroom programs, including Special and Bilingual Education”

Veto override of $10M cut in the uncompensated care pool

Platform indicates YES based on Part III: Health Care

Vote number 170 on Budget Veto Override on July 8, 2003

Override Gov. Romney's veto of a Budget Line Item which eliminated $9,670,807 in funding for the uncompensated care pool. This care pool provides health care for people who would otherwise not be covered for hospital visits.

Relevant platform section: PART III: HEALTH CARE, ACCESS & CHOICE: Access and Costs: “We remain committed to extending proper coverage to each of the hundreds of thousands of residents still uninsured, and to aiding the even greater number who are underinsured, or at risk of being so.”

Veto override of "Turning 22" mental disability program

Platform indicates YES based on Part III: Health Care

Vote number 253 on Budget Veto Override on July 10, 2003

Override Gov. Romney's veto of a Budget Line Item which eliminated state funding for the "Turning 22" program, which provides residential and treatment services for severely disabled individuals (who are mandated to exit other state programs after age 21). "Turning 22" is designed to allow a person to remain where his or her family lives.

Relevant platform section: PART III: HEALTH CARE, ACCESS & CHOICE: Mental Health: “Our Party supports the full implementation of mental health policies which will provide emergence care, family support, and appropriate housing to our citizens with chronic mental health disorders. “


 

Defeating corporate tax disclosure

Platform indicates NO based on Part IV: Economic Growth

Vote number 69 on H.4000 on May 1, 2003

Would study corporate tax disclosure, defeating measure to implement it.

Relevant section of platform:PART IV: ECONOMIC GROWTH, JOBS & SECURITY: A Healthy Business Environment: "We support monitoring the costs of doing business in the Commonwealth, so that companies can grow and compete while still meeting their obligations to workers and the community."

Extending corporate tax credit 5 years

Platform indicates NO based on Part IV: Economic Growth

Vote number 71 on H.4000 on May 1, 2003

Would extend corporate tax credit 5 years

Relevant section of platform:PART IV: ECONOMIC GROWTH, JOBS & SECURITY: A Healthy Business Environment: "We support tax incentives for business when accompanied by commitments to good corporate citizenship and enforceable terms assuring continued investment in Massachusetts."

Requiring workfare for mothers of 2- to 6-year-olds

Platform indicates NO based on Part IV: Economic Growth

Vote number 80 on Section 487 on May 5, 2003

[Welfare] recipients not qualifying as exempt,[Welfare] recipients not qualifying as exempt, and whose child of record is under the age at which full-time school attendance is mandatory, may meet only 10 hrs of the work requirement through education and training programs.

Relevant platform section: PART IV: ECONOMIC GROWTH, JOBS & SECURITY: Supporting the Transition from Welfare to Work: "We are committed to ensuring a safety net to members of our families in times of need. We recognize that for some, that transition may take a lifetime."

Allowing parents on welfare to go back to school.

Platform indicates voting YES based on Part IV: Economic Growth, Jobs & Security

Vote number 368 on Budget Veto Override Section 528 on July 16, 2003

Override Gov. Romney's veto of a program to allow parents with young children who are on welfare to go back to school in lieu of working to meet the requirements of the federal Personal Work and Responsibility Act of 1996.

PART IV: ECONOMIC GROWTH, JOBS & SECURITY: Supporting the Transition from Welfare to Work: "We seek to help welfare recipients successfully find and keep jobs. We advocate increased job training and educational opportunities, and we must ensure that support systems in child care, transportation, and health insurance are in place to enable people to work and to advance into more highly paid jobs. We are committed to ensuring a safety net to members of our families in times of need. We recognize that for some, that transition may take a lifetime. We support measures that reduce, not increase, the number of children living in poverty."

Borrow $300 million to offset the budget deficit via bonds

Platform indicates NO based on Part V: Fiscal Responsibility

Vote number 62 on Amendment to MGL 29 on April 30, 2003

The state shall issue and sell bonds of the Commonwealth in an amount [up to] $300,000,000. All such bonds shall be payable not later than June 30, 2010. All interest and payments on account of principal on such obligation bonds issued pursuant to this section shall be special obligations of the Commonwealth. [Establishes a 7-year bond program to borrow money to pay off the budget deficit]

Relevant platform section: PART V: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, TAX EQUITY, & PUBLIC STEWARDSHIP: Tax Fairness and Responsible Budgeting: "Budgets should be fiscally responsible and balanced without gimmicks."


 

Raising the income tax to 5.95% to offset the budget deficit

Platform indicates YES based on Part V: Fiscal Responsibility

Vote number 64 on Section 470 on April 30, 2003

Taxable income shall be taxed at the rate of 5.95 per cent for tax years beginning in 2003, for Part B income. [Increase in the tax rate].

Relevant platform section: PART V: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, TAX EQUITY, & PUBLIC STEWARDSHIP: Tax Fairness and Responsible Budgeting: "We believe that taxes should be fair and based on ability to pay, and that budgets should be fiscally responsible and balanced without gimmicks."

Veto override of Mass Correctional Legal Services

Platform indicates YES based on Part VI: Safety & Justice

Vote number 258 on Budget Veto Override on July 10, 2003

Override Gov. Romney's veto of Budget Line Item 0321-2100, $500,000 for the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services (MCLS). MCLS provides the only legal aid to indigent incarcerated individuals.

Relevant platform section: PART VI: SAFETY, JUSTICE & CRIME PREVENTION Legal Services: “We support publicly funded legal services to provide legal representation and advice on issues such as housing, employment, domestic violence, health, elder law, public benefits, and immigration. We urge full state and federal funding of such services. “

Veto override of reduced fees for blood lead level testing

Platform indicates YES based on Part VIII: Environment

Vote number 176 on Budget Veto Override on July 8, 2003

"Override veto of exception of fees charged for the testing of blood lead levels. The fees would be limited based on the fees in 2002. Relevant platform section: PART VIII: ENVIRONMENT, PRESERVATION & SUSTAINABLITY: Food Safety, Pesticides and Public Health: “We believe state and federal regulatory agencies should pay especially close attention to pollutants that have a direct impact on our families’ health, with a particular emphasis on regulating mercury, arsenic, pesticides, and lead.”

Relevant budget section: SECTION 631. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary and with the exception of fees charged for the testing of blood lead levels, fees charged by the division of occupational safety... shall be set at a rate not less than twice the rate charged on July 1, 2002.”. "

Early retirement for cases of MWRA-work-related cancer

Platform indicates YES based on Part X: Worker Rights

Vote number 397 on Budget Veto Override on July 16, 2003

Gov. Romney vetoed budget section 673, which says: “A person who has been in the state retirement system for more than 35 years, with at least 10 or more of those years in the employment of the Massachusetts Water and Resources Administration; who, in the course of his state employment was exposed to asbestos or other hazardous materials; and who has been diagnosed with an extraneously cancer related illness as well as an extraneously cardio-vascular cardiac related illness, shall be eligible for early retirement with surviving spouse benefits at a compensation rate equivalent to his current salary, if the individual makes application for an early retirement on or before December 31, 2003.” A YEA vote would override the veto and fund the early retirement arrangement.

PART X: WORKERS’ RIGHTS AND FUTURES: Occupational Safety -- "We support environmental Right-to-Know laws about chemical and other potential dangers to worker health. We oppose efforts to weaken workplace safety standards, or the ability of OSHA or state-level agencies to enforce them."

 


Following are votes which do NOT count on the Mass Scorecard, with the reason for which they were rejected. We include this section to demonstrate our vetting process.

Excluded because it addresses the same issue as rollcall #88.

Expanding charter schools program

Platform indicates NO based on Part II: Education

Vote number 87 on H.4000 on May 6, 2003

"Would study charter school moratorium, killing measure to implement moratorium

Relevant section of platform: PART II: EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND OPPORTUNITY: Full Funding: ""We call upon the state to change funding of Commonwealth Charter schools to ensure that funds are not drained from established public schools."" "

Excluded because it authorizes GUIDELINES, without authorizing the actual sale of naming rights.

Selling naming rights on state forests and parks

Platform indicates NO based on Part IV: Economic Growth

Vote number 78 on Section 484 on May 5, 2003

The department of parks and recreation is hereby authorized to develop guidelines and criteria on the subject of the public sale of naming rights for state forests and parks or for facilities within state forests and parks.

Relevant platform section: PART IV: ECONOMIC GROWTH, JOBS & SECURITY: Privatization Accountability: "We assert and recognize... that it is the public sector, not the private sector, which has the distinct capacity to deliver efficient, high quality services in many areas."

Excluded because the link to the platform on economic grounds, while correct in the public view, is not the primary reason that most legislators voted yea or nay.

Pay raises for Legislature leaders

Platform indicates NO based on Part V: Fiscal Responsibility

Vote number 54 on H.3743 on April 14, 2003

Additional compensation for the following [legislators]: presiding officers, members of the majority and minority leadership, chairmen, vice-chairmen, assistant vice-chairmen and ranking minority members of committees -- shall be established by the joint rules of the senate and the house of representatives. [This gives power over salary to the Legislative leadership].

Relevant platform section: PART V: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, TAX EQUITY, & PUBLIC STEWARDSHIP: Investments and Tax Relief: "We believe surpluses should go to public priorities like... the provision of tax relief targeted first to working families. We reject emphatically state or federal tax policies that redirect hard-won budget surpluses or other public revenues into the hands of a few."

Excluded because the core issue is privacy, which is not addressed in the platform.

Publicizing delinquent tax payers on-line

Platform indicates NO based on Part V: Fiscal Responsibility

Vote number 85 on H.4000 on May 6, 2003

Would require making delinquent tax payers public on-line

Relevant section of platform:PART V: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, TAX EQUITY, & PUBLIC STEWARDSHIP: Consumer Protection: "We support the protection of consumers and their interests in all areas of the marketplace."


 

Excluded because the connection to environmental impact statements is too tenuous.

Requiring regulatory impact statements for new regulations

Platform indicates NO based on Part VIII: Environment

Vote number 75 on MGL Chapter 30A on May 5, 2003

Requiring a ‘Regulatory impact statement’ for all new regulations promulgated by state agencies. The statement shall:

  • identify the problem addressed
  • identify expert information and analysis
  • identify specifically who is affected and to what extent
  • identify when such regulation becomes effective, and how and when the regulation will be reviewed
  • describe the financial impacts of the regulation, including compliance costs and indirect costs
  • identify the fiscal effect over the first five years; and
  • describe specifically the benefits of the regulation.

[Would have the effect of making new regulations more difficult for state agencies to implement, in a manner analogous to how environmental impact statements make environmentally degradatory practices more difficult].

Relevant platform section: PART VIII: ENVIRONMENT, PRESERVATION & SUSTAINABLITY: Environmental Law Enforcement: "We believe it is a basic responsibility of government to ensure that all laws enacted to protect our environment are obeyed and enforced."

Excluded because the particular usage of the land being sold is the core issue, not the general concept of selling conservation land.

Selling land currently under conservation protection

Platform indicates NO based on Part VIII: Environment

Vote number 184 on H.3831 on July 9, 2003

Would convey [sell] a certain parcel of land in the city of Fall River, [which is currently subject to] easements for conservation purposes, as defined by Article XCVII of the Amendments to the Constitution.

Relevant section of platform:PART VIII: ENVIRONMENT, PRESERVATION & SUSTAINABLITY: Safeguarding Natural Resources. "We support state assistance for communities to protect, by purchase or conservation restriction, threatened parcels, with a priority on riparian lands or wetlands, wildlife habitat, and urban and semi-urban communities with little open space left."



Our criteria for selecting votes are:

  • Count only roll call votes -- no voice votes, no bill sponsorships, etc.
  • No omnibus legislation (such as vote on the entire budget bill, because the purpose of the legislator's vote is unclear).
  • No constituent service votes, nor any votes that apply primarily to one locality (such as funding for a hospital or court in one legislator's district, since the vote depends more on geography than on one's stance on the issues).
  • Count only one vote in a series of amendments, or only one vote on any given topic (to avoid over-weighting one issue over others).
  • No unanimous or near-unanimous votes (because they do not distinguish legislators from one another, and likely have some other political component hidden from the apparent vote).
  • Count only votes that clearly address a platform issue, as expressed in the platform, and as the core issue of the vote.
  • Vet all votes by confirming with elected officials on a confidential basis that the selected votes meet the criteria above, that the descriptions and platform links are fair and accurate, and that the vote is a fair representation of the legislator's view of the corresponding section of the party platform.

Frequently Asked Questions
about the Mass Scorecard

Basics about the Mass Scorecard

Background Information

Press about the Mass Scorecard

Process and Structure of the Mass Scorecard

Getting Involved

·         How do I help?

·         How do I join the Progressive Democrats?

·         How can I help build the Mass Scorecard?

·         How do I join CPPAX?

·         How do I support the website?


Basics about the Mass Scorecard

Q: What is the Mass Scorecard?

A: The Mass Scorecard will be the implementation of the Accountability Amendment which passed 60% to 40% at the Massachusetts Democratic Issues Convention in June 2003.

Q: What is the purpose of the Mass Scorecard?

A: Our mission is to provide information to the voting public about how legislative voting records relate to the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Our purpose is to expose voting records to the public, and to show the degree to which each legislator adheres to the party platform.

Q: How will the Mass Scorecard be presented?

A: This website (www.MassScorecard.org) will list each legislator and a set of votes which relate to the Massachusetts Democratic Party. We will sum up the percentage of votes for each legislator which are in agreement with what the party platform recommends. The scorecard itself will comprise a summary list of all the legislators with their percentage score. The details of how we select the votes and the related section of the platform are detailed below.

Q: Why this method?

A: The basis for the Mass Scorecard is the Massachusetts Democratic Party Charter. In Article 6, Section V, entitled “Adherence to Platform by Democratic Officials,” the charter says:

“The most recent Democratic platform and/or agenda is the official position of the Democratic Party. Every Democratic committee member, every Democratic nominee, and every official elected as the Democratic nominee shall adhere to the national, state, and any local platform, in that order of priority, in all official statements and actions. Failure to do so shall not result in any removal or loss of rights within the Party, but may be publicized by resolutions or other appropriate action of any Party convention, conference, committee, or caucus.”

We are publicizing Democratic elected officials’ voting records as recommended in the party charter.

Q: Why voting records?

A: First, they’re unambiguous – a yes or no statement on a particular issue. Second, there’s an official record maintained by the Massachusetts government. And third, “surveys suggest a strong desire by citizens to see the voting records of their lawmakers,” as reported in the New York Times. The Massachusetts legislature’s voting records are impenetrable to the voting public, and there are no websites to provide that information

Q: Who are you?

A: The Mass Scorecard is a project of the Progressive Democrats of Somerville, the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge, and CPPAX (Citizens for Participation in Political Action). This coalition of progressive organizations prepared the Issues Convention resolution and undertook the work to get it passed. We encourage the participation in our coalition by other progressive groups, especially local chapters of the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts. The technology behind the Mass Scorecard is adapted from OnTheIssues.org, which provides voting records on-line for federal legislators.

Q: What is the relationship between the Mass Scorecard and the Mass Dems?

A: We intend to create the Mass Scorecard in conjunction with the Massachusetts Democratic Party and as an official document of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The Mass Scorecard currently has no formal connection with, nor authorization from, the Massachusetts Democratic Party.


Background Information

Q: What is the party platform?

A: The party platform is the document which defines what the Massachusetts Democratic Party believes in. Few people agree with the platform 100%, but calling yourself a Democrat means you agree with the majority of it.

Q: What is the Issues Convention?

A: It’s where the Massachusetts Democratic Party gathers to decide on the content of the party platform, once every four years, most recently in 2001. In between, Issues Conventions amend the platform with an Action Agenda. The Issues Convention in June 2003 amended the 2001 platform, and hence the Accountability Amendment is part of the 2003 Action Agenda. Our coalition had numerous members who were elected as delegates to the Issues Convention.

Q: What’s the party charter?

A: The party charter defines the rules of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, as decided at the Issues Convention. While the platform provides guidance to legislators on how the Massachusetts Democratic Party expects them to vote, the party charter provides guidance for internal party matters.

Q: What is the Accountability Amendment?

A: Our coalition gathered the signatures of over 1,000 delegates to the Massachusetts Issues Convention, which allowed a floor vote on the following amendment to the Action Agenda: “We call for promoting accountability to the Party Platform and reinforcing the Party’s commitment to social and economic justice, by publishing a ‘scorecard’ by March 1 of each year, indicating how Democratic legislators voted on 10 fundamental issues from the current Party Platform.” The floor vote resulted in a 60% to 40% passage of the Amendment.

Q: What are the Progressive Democrats?

A: The Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts are a still-in-formation organization which grew out Massachusetts voters who felt newly involved with the Democratic Party after the gubernatorial election last year. The Progressive Democrats of Somerville and the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge originally developed the idea for the Mass Scorecard. The Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts have no formal connection with the Mass Scorecard, except that the people involved overlap. If you're interested in joining the Progressive Democrats of Somerville or the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge, or you would like to work on the Mass Scorecard, please contact us at [email protected] .

Q: What is CPPAX?

A: Citizens for Participation in Political Action is one of the oldest progressive organizations in Massachusetts. CPPAX formed in the 1960s and has worked on progressive issues from establishing the nation’s first Earth Day in 1971, to the Clean Elections campaign in 1998-2002. CPPAX is also a membership organization -- if you are interested in joining, or to learn more about CPPAX, go to www.CPPAX.org .


Press about the Mass Scorecard

Q: Why are some people against the Mass Scorecard and how do you respond to them?

A: Former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R, OK) published an article in the Boston Globe saying that the Mass Scorecard would help Republicans by pushing legislative candidates to the left. We disagree – we think that many independent voters will view the Mass Scorecard as a sign of the health of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and will become more involved with electoral politics as a result. In particular, new voters and previously disaffected voters will view the accountability associated with the Mass Scorecard as a signal that the Massachusetts Democratic Party is addressing the desires of independent voters.

Scot Lehigh published an op-ed in the Boston Globe concluding that the Issues Convention should be canceled rather than push the Democratic party from centrist to progressive. We conclude that the Mass Scorecard will make the Issues Convention a more meaningful venue to debate what the Democratic Party should stand for, and that that process would invigorate the Democratic Party as well.

Q: What’s the story with the Massachusetts Senate?

A: We made a mistake by leaving a pilot website on the Internet for too long. We created a pilot, with meaningless sample votes, to illustrate how the Mass Scorecard computer system would work, so we could demonstrate it to our fellow Democrats and establish a process for creating the Mass Scorecard. We intended it as a private website, but Google.com somehow indexed it (a testament to their efficiency). It contained only 4 votes – not enough for any rigorous analysis – while the final Mass Scorecard will include perhaps two or three dozen votes. A senate aide found the Mass Scorecard on Google, then photocopied it and distributed it on the Senate floor. The information in the pilot was never intended for public dissemination and was entirely to demonstrate the technical aspects of the Mass Scorecard system. Accordingly, once we discovered that we were listed on Google, we removed the content of the Mass Scorecard. We will re-post the Mass Scorecard as soon as it has some meaningful content – right now it is a work-in- process. We are currently establishing the details of that process, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Process and Structure of the Mass Scorecard

Q: Tell us about the process you will use.

A: We will develop a complete process for selecting the votes in the Mass Scorecard and for how those votes are presented, under the auspices of the Public Policy Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. That committee includes state reps, state senators, and Democratic State Committee (DSC) members. The DSC as a body will vote on accepting or modifying the process. We will then select the votes to include on the scorecard, with that same group absent the elected legislators, since their votes are the ones being scored and they therefore might be seen as having a conflict of interest. Our coalition will then implement the scorecard according to the methods defined by the Public Policy Committee and approved by the DSC. An outline of the process appears below – this is a first draft subject to modification by the Public Policy Committee.

Q: How will the website be structured?

A: The website would have a legislator’s web page for each member of the Massachusetts House. The website would have a table listing the following:

  • Each of the 11 sections of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Platform;
  • House votes corresponding to each section of the platform;
  • How the platform would recommend voting about that issue (yes or no);
  • How the legislator actually voted on that issue (yes or no).
  • Pop-up pages including the full text of the relevant section of the party platform, to a fuller description of the vote, to the bill or budget section being voted on, and to the House and Senate Journals where the official voting record can be found.

The bottom line of the legislator’s webpage would calculate a percentage of votes which were in agreement with the platform’s recommended vote. We would then do the same for each member of the Massachusetts Senate, using a modified set of Senate votes, only some of which had corresponding House votes.

Q: How do voters compare one legislator to another?

A: We would list a summary page of all of the legislators with their scorecard percentages, for direct comparison. The summary page would list each House member alphabetically, with a link to sort by scorecard percentage. A similar method would apply to the Senate.

Q: What about when a legislator is absent?

A: There are four methods to deal with absences.

  • First, we will calculate the scorecard percentages based on the number of votes in agreement with the platform, divided by the number of votes cast. Hence a missed vote is neither counted for nor against a legislator’s scorecard percentage directly.
  • Second, any legislator can insert into the House Journal or Senate Journal (the official record of the proceedings of the legislature) how they would have voted, had they been present. We will include those insertions as if the legislator actually voted.
  • Third, we will allow legislators to report to us how they would have voted, if they did not take the opportunity to insert their vote into the House and Senate Journals, with an appropriate note indicating the unofficial nature of the voting record.
  • Fourth, the scorecard summary page will include the number of votes that the scorecard percentage is based on.

Q: What about Republican legislators?

A: We will score Republicans in the same manner as we’re scoring Democrats, with their votes compared to the Democratic Party Platform. of course Republicans have no obligation to adhere to the Democratic platform, and presumably their scorecard percentages will reflect a much lower adherence rate. We think citizens will find the Republicans’ votes much less in alignment with the Massachusetts electorate than the Democrats’ votes, which is one of the motivating factors for our creation of the Mass Scorecard.


Getting Involved

Q: How do I help?

A: First, sign up on our e-mail list. Second, join one of our coalition organizations or help us directly with volunteer labor. Third, write in support of the Mass Scorecard. Fourth, we accept donations.

Q: How can I help build the Mass Scorecard?

A: We are an all-volunteer coalition and could use your help. If you are interested in working on the Mass Scorecard, please contact us at [email protected] . If you would like to write a letter of support, send an e-mail to that same address.

Q: How do I join the Progressive Democrats?

A: The Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts is a membership organization -- if you are interested in joining, contact us and we'll send you a membership form. The annual membership dues are $25. The Progressive Democrats of Somerville and the Progressive Democrats of Cambridge have regular meetings -- Look for our next meeting dates on our websites at www.MassChange.org.

Q: How do I join CPPAX?

A: Citizens for Participation in Political Action is a membership organization with annual dues and regular meetings. If you are interested in joining, contact [email protected] .

Q: How do I support the website?

A: The Mass Scorecard website is hosted by OnTheIssues.org, which is part of the Speakout Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. The Speakout Foundation accepts tax-deductible contributions as a 501(c)(3) corporation. You may send donations to 1770 Mass Ave, #630, Cambridge MA, 02140.