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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, December 03, 2010

He's not on probation

Some politicians like to talk about spending political capital. Deval Patrick is doing it by picking a fight with the legislature and the judiciary over probation.

While House Speaker Robert DeLeo chose the friendly confines of the Dan Rea Show to offer his most extensive comments about the probation scandal (he's angry!) Patrick went before newspaper publishers to challenge DeLeo and his hand-picked choice for chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Arguing for legislation to take the department out of the judiciary (with legislative domination) and into the executive branch, Patrick threw down the gauntlet:
“I’m prepared to be responsible for that, but I want the authority that goes with that responsibility because, in my life experience, separating those two is fatal. The court has had a chance to oversee probation, and I respect the court, but most other states — I think 37 here in the United States — have probation within the executive branch.’’
Given the track record to date, it's a compelling argument for combining authority and responsibility.

Aside from expressing his anger, DeLeo did explain the rise in the department budget went beyond merely feathering its nest for patronage hires. But the lack of oversight -- something the legislature is clearly empowered to do -- suggests taxpayers need someone actually willing to look for hands in cookie jars.

This should be an interesting constitutional scrape.

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