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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Deval is in the Details

First, like the lawyers say, let's stipulate that Deval Patrick has had a disappointing first year. The promise of "Together We Can" has faded amid the day-to-day business of government and a few banana peel moments known as DrapeGate and Cadillac Deval.

Now the Globe reminds us that instead of relying on the grassroots network that he put in place to drive his historic victory, the governor and Lt. Gov. Tom Murray are out raising cash from the same folks whose clout they promised to rein in.

We are also offered the standard sound bite from Common Cause director Pam Wilmot:
"Special interest cash is like quicksand - it traps you and pretty soon it drowns you."
But as is often the case with campaign and political reporting -- in the Globe and elsewhere -- we are missing some crucial context -- namely what exactly has all this cash gotten Patrick?

The same lawyers, lobbyists, developers and insurance company executives who are ponying up for him are doing the same thing for House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Senate President Terry Murray, the chairs of the two branches ways and means committees and key panels such as financial services, economic development and emerging technologies and telecommunications, utilities and energy.

The Legislature didn't exactly cover itself in glory for its frantic pace of business in 2007.

The system is awash in cash, same as it ever was. The solution, suggests Wilmot, is for the governor to champion campaign finance reform and public funding.

Great idea. Has she forgotten "Clean Elections"? You know the voter-backed public funding system that former House Speaker Tom Finneran left to wither and die on the vine by failing to fund it.

Where exactly is the legislature's stomach to take on this issue again? Clean Elections was the result of voters tired of lawmakers avoiding the issue. But when push came to shove and the prospect of diverting money for education and public safety to campaigns, the whole topic faded from view. Even voters didn't rise in defense.

And instead of just offering an annual story on gubernatorial special interest fund-raising, why not match it with a look at how legislative leaders are doing? Or how Patrick continues to raise cash from the grassroots and his 71st Fund which can take donations of up to $1,000?

Or how he has failed to take advantage of that grassroots base -- and turned many against him at least on the issue of casinos.

The problems Massachusetts face are systemic -- with the media being a key part of the system. Instead of looking for new solutions, we are relying on the same old debates that will get us nowhere.

Actually, give Patrick credit for the casino plan. A bad idea is better than nothing at all, which is what we have been getting from our elected and civic leadership.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Dan Kennedy said...

Quite the contrary -- a bad idea is always worse than nothing at all. Or you can redefine "nothing at all" as a good idea. Continuing to live without casinos? A good idea.

December 11, 2007 12:18 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Yes, but what would we blog about if he hadn't come up with the idea? :-)

December 11, 2007 7:21 PM  

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