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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The cavalry has arrived

You know it must be a good move. The Herald is already complaining about the "shroud of secrecy" surrounding Diane Patrick.

I can't add anything new
to my belief that her mental health is not a fair topic for conversation -- unless it's in the context of explaining what depression REALLY is. But I can see signs Deval Patrick and his administration may be ready to turn the corner.

One of the biggest myths about government is that it is packed full of hacks, crooks and ne'er-do-wells, looking to live off the public trough. There are plenty of them (just as in corporate suites) but they usually get rooted out.

Most people enter government because they want to make a difference. Even conservatives enter government with a goal -- to reduce or eliminate it. It's not about the perks.

That's why it's good that Deval Patrick (who has that same idealistic streak)
finally saw the light on the need to include people who share that vision -- but also know how government works.

By adding Joe Landolfi to help out with press and David Morales to help out with policy and staff (people already on the public payroll) Patrick had added folks who know how to work in the Statehouse and across the Commonwealth to get his vision implemented and get the word out.

Landolfi has worked in government for the better part of two decades -- for people as hugely different politically as Michael Dukakis and Andrew Natsios. Heck, he's been around as long as Frank Phillips! If you Google him, nothing comes up, the mark of a communications person who knows how to work to attract the proper attention to his boss.

Morales comes over from Senate President Robert Travaglini (a sure sign that Trav is very seriously considering job offers, protests to the contrary), meaning he knows how to work in the building -- and knows where the bodies are buried. It's an inspired move considering how Patrick and Trav started out.

And of course, the departure of the possibly necessary but politically ill-advised appointment of a $72,000 scheduler for Diane Patrick is addition by subtraction. Like the Caddy and the drapes, it sent a terrible message, even if there was justification.

What of the survivors? Joan Wallace-Benjamin, a well-respected administrator with no government experience, will benefit greatly from Morales' arrival. He knows when to stroke and when to bring the hammer down.

But Nancy Fernandez Mills still as a credibility problem that can't be eliminated by the arrival of Landolfi. It probably can't be fixed, period.

While some observers are correct that it's refreshing Mills could admit she wanted to retract something until she learned the facts, it is also fatal to her credibility. Adding someone else, whether as tutor or overseer, guarantees no reporter will treat her word as the final answer.

It's entirely possible she can forge a solid record behind the scene in creating messages for Patrick, but her value on the podium (where she was prominently located the other day) is marginal, at best.

Can we move along now to important things like the budget and figure out how we can have the services we want without raising revenue, whether through taxes, gambling or a shiny pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

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