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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Interesting reading today, watching previous critics rise to the defense of an embattled state official.

In particular, the Herald uses exquisitely bad taste in labeling the replacement of Harry Spence as commissioner of the Department of Social Services as a "drive-by shooting," (By the way guys, who said it? The quote is never backed up. Another enterprising writing effort?)

By all accounts, Spence did an overall good job in running one of the most unruly agencies in state government. Appointed by Jane Swift, he served through the Romney years too -- during which several high profile child abuse cases sprang to the front pages.

But oh those cases, in particular that of Haleigh Poutre, the youngster DSS sought to prematurely remove from life support and Rebecca Riley, the child from Hull whose death is still being played out in examinations of the use and abuse of medications for the controversial diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder.

Spence and his supporters are correct the issues were deeper than just abuse, involving the intersection of medicine and social services. But aren't those supporters the same ones calling for the scalp of other embattled leaders of hidebound agencies such as the medical examiner's office?

Spence had more than five years to change a culture of an agency seemingly impervious to change. While his list of public service tasks is impressive -- and his devotion to the public sector laudatory -- it is quite appropriate for a third governor to make a change.

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