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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Drip, drip, drip

Another day, another bad headline. Is this about to become the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight? Too soon to tell -- but the clock is definitely running.

There's a lot more than meets the eye to this latest Page One "bump" for the Patrick administration. Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Suzanne Bump is no novice around state government and has the Ethics Commission scars to prove it.

I'm inclined to ascribe the allegations that she improperly attempted to influence the actions of the labor relations board as pure political hardball, particularly in light of that Ethics Commission agreement related to an appearance of a conflict-of-interest when she served in the Legislature.

Few people step on the same land mine twice and the labor commissioners are holdovers from the Romney administration. The 'he said, she said' dust-up may likely be no different than other efforts by the Patrick administration to gain control over quasi-independent boards such as Massport and the turnpike authority.

Frankly, if commissioners Paul T. O'Neill and Hugh L. Reilly feel Bump acted improperly, they probably would have hauled her her back before the ethics panel, not the Globe. Frank Phillips has a long history of stories that are exquisitely embarrassing -- but often have no long-term impact.

But the steady drip of headlines is having just the impact that the non-friends of Deval Patrick are looking for. Coming on top of a well-meaning but seriously messed up effort to encourage citizen participation -- not to mention the Caddy, the drapes and the helicopter -- its time to ask what the administration has in store to staunch the bleeding and take high ground.

A public used to daily horror stories out of Washington, and happy to wallow in the "exploits" of Britney and Anna Nicole, is not likely to sympathize with growing pains much longer. They will tune out and that worthwhile effort at citizen involvement will be left to citizens of the Legislature, special interest groups and the Republican Party.

UPDATE: What's with that picture? How inappropriate is it to use a picture of Bump and her husband in formal wear? Are they going to use pictures of Deval in a tux? What's wrong with the head shot they used in the dead tree dition?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

More of a story here, I bet. SEIU put lots of $ and effort into getting a ballot question approved that would let them organize home health workers who were independent contractors to the state. It was soundly defeated.

Was this part of a plan to get around that and get the Governor to do administratively what they failed to get at the ballot?

Was this part of the payback for the millions they put into ads against Kerry Healy during the campaign?

March 28, 2007 6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WRONG. Yes, the referendum question was defeated at the polls, but the Legislature subsequently enacted it anyway. The Patrick Administration cannot administratively do this 'cuz it's a done deal.

March 28, 2007 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Double wrong. There were two separate ballot questions qualified for the ballot by two separate SEIU locals last year. One would give home healthcare workers the right to organize a union, the other would give childcare workers the right to form a union.

The home healthcare question was passed unanimously by the legislature in July and Romney's veto was again unanimously overridden by the legislature. Because the legislature enacted this law, the ballot question was withdrawn and did not appear on the ballot in the fall. (By the way, this ballot measure had overwhelming public support in public polling and focus groups.)

The second issue relating to childcare workers did not come up for a vote in the legislature, stayed on the ballot, and was defeated.

Two very different issues.

The issue with the LRC was that -- per the newly enacted legislation giving the homecare workers the right to form a union -- the union (1199SEIU) filed a petition requesting an election for the homecare workers. The LRC, ironically enough, is led by anti-union Republican appointed commissioners. They gave every indication in writing and in conversation that they would delay this election process indefinitely. In effect, they would try to accomplish beauracratically what Romney could not accomplish through his veto -- the denial of the right to form a union by homecare workers. That is the real outrage of this story.

March 29, 2007 5:53 AM  

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