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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, July 02, 2009

Facing the challenges

Say what you will about Deval Patrick, his popularity and personality, but the guy doesn't seem afraid to take on the challenges.

Jay Fitzgerald rightly suggests that Patrick seems to have a pinball approach to reforms -- although he would not have been the first governor to try to work with a Legislature before discovering they actually require gubernatorial subservience.

Governors with a legislative background persevered because, as former members of the club, they knew the rules. Those without the background -- Bill Weld and Mitt Romney -- bailed.

While I have been accused of being Patrick's No. 1 apologist, it is hard to deny that he has taken on a lot of sacred cows in his two-plus years: ethics, pensions, transportation represent significant wins.

But dealing with the Legislature will be child's play compared to what lies ahead -- tackling unions. Here too there are some triumphs -- particularly the Legislature-assisted cracking of the Quinn Bill and the transportation infrastructure. The fall-out, especially from the Quinn and pension successes, may get messy, but it's a feather in the cap of someone aiming to change the culture.

There is little doubt the state's teachers unions are simply holding their fire until they see the details of the Patrick proposal for the state to take over under-performing schools. But there is equally little question they will not be happy:
The Patrick administration, in a sharp deviation from previous state policy, will seek legislative approval to take over about 30 of the state’s worst schools and dramatically weaken their teacher contracts, as part of the governor’s effort to overhaul public education.
The verdict is still out on how successful the administration has been in saving dollars by implementing a modified change to police contracts and allowing civilian flaggers on selected state highway projects. The teachers will resist as strongly as the police in accepting change.

We can comment on Patrick's aloofness, take snide jabs at his retreat to his Richmond home and constantly dredge up CaddyGate and the furniture. And we certainly won't be forgetting his unpopular push for casinos, about to be taken up again, this time by the Legislature.

But if we get past them, it's clear he is someone who is focused on the job itself and not -- like some of his predecessors -- someone who sees it as a mere stepping stone to something else, whether a a cushy ambassador's job or a run for the White House.

Patrick has been taking hits because he has been taking on tough, entrenched problems. Those stances have cost him popularity and may cost him his job next year. We may not need to love him, but he deserve some props for trying where those who came before him did not.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

I'm fine with Deval, besides his dad played with Sun Ra.

There needs to be a change in the uneasy alliance between SUV liberals in bubble enclaves like Concord and the inner city union spawned grifters and grafters.

If we can kick those reprobates to the curb and make common cause with the left behind working stiffs who are now easy pickings for Howie Carr we might see a new pragmatic coalition.

But an essential precondition is attacking the disease at its source, home rule of slovenly crooked little cities and towns that are the grifter spawning grounds.

People go ballistic when they find out about these sweetheart pension schemes when most folks are living in a post pension era with vaporizing 401k plans.

Look at the reaction to the fire and police rush to rig their pension numbers just before the deadline.

July 02, 2009 12:41 PM  

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