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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, September 22, 2008

Playing to win

He's come a long way baby.

Critics who suggested Deval Patrick was a liberal do-gooder without the chops to get things done may need to reassess that opinion after discovering the governor's latest actions on police details.

Risking backlash from both labor and municipal leaders like Tom Menino with a history of caving to police union demands, Patrick did an end-around to close loopholes that police unions were using to eliminate the teeth of his proposal to use civilian flaggers at most construction sites around the state.

The reaction from police ranged from disbelief on the part of Boston Police Patrolmen's Association head Thomas Nee to outright anger.
"In my 25 years in law enforcement in this state, I have never worked with a more insensitive and arrogant administration that is simply unwilling to listen on this issue," said Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan, who is also a spokesman for the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs, which represents police chiefs in the state's largest communities.
The issue is as much budget politics and prerogatives as it is public safety. In fact, the public safety questions seem to be addressed in a thoughtful plan that takes into account the volume of traffic and speeds allowed along state roads.

Resistance to civilian flaggers has been a major point in police union politics seemingly forever and many a governor has either sidestepped the issue or caved under pressure. Unions consider the paid overtime details a basic right in supplementing their income. Elected officials, whether they say it or not, see them as a drain on their budgets.

Patrick's win reflects sound coalition-building politics. He worked with House Speaker Sal DiMasi and Senate President Terry Murray to present a united front in pursuing the change. And he didn't walk away, like Bill Weld, when the pressure was raised and loophole maneuvers commenced.

Obviously this latest move in the chess match will anger public employee unions. But with a looming ballot test on continuation of the state's income tax, Patrick and state leaders need to show they are doing their best to tackle spending.

And the sight of police officers sitting in their cars -- sipping coffee, munching donuts and talking on the phone -- is a sore point for many, safety issues be damned.

When Patrick runs for reelection in 2010 as he keeps promising, he will face irritated union members who likely will have hand-sitting as their only viable option for revenge. But he will have earned some major points elsewhere for not backing down on an issue where every one of his Republican predecessors blinked and walked away.

(Oh by the way Globe editors -- would it kill you to link to your own stories within the body of follow-up stories and not several clicks away?)

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for him.

I'm all for people making a living wage.

But fleecing a system like this, be it be paid details, 70K to collect change, or MBTA workers who get paid 70K to operate a train and can retire at 55, is wrong.

No one in this world gets a free lunch, and it too bad if these guys are angry because theirs came to an end.

the schools and public infrastructure can better use this money.

September 22, 2008 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Police are going to wait that long. He should get ready for a serious shit storm!

September 24, 2008 4:55 PM  

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