Hammer and Machete
Deval Patrick is spending a large chunk of the currency he gained in November by telling municipal unions that they either quickly come prepared to talk about paying more for the own health care -- or have the deed done for them.
And oh yeah, we're still going to cut the heck out of local aid for anything other than schools and roads. Which means you may be lucky to have a job, let along health insurance.
The grim message delivered at the Massachusetts Municipal Association's annual convention probably went over as well as the snow that ate a huge chunk of local revenue to remove.
But the move was necessary, given what Patrick rightly categorized as the "veto" local unions have held over the previously voluntarily effort to shift workers into the Group Insurance Commission programs that mean higher premiums and co-pays for employees and lower overall costs for cities and towns.
Savings those communities can they funnel back into police, fire and trash and snow removal services facing new and steep cuts.
There is about to be a lot of unpleasant substances hitting the fan as the slow recovery inches along and the Republican House in Washington rules that stimulus is bad. Municipal employees and the services they provide are ultimately always the target for savings, because that's where the vast majority of the taxes we pay for go.
But there are no choices left and union leaders are going to have to make the toughest one of all, something they have successfully avoided for years: are their members going to pay higher health care costs? Or are they going to have jobs?
We're all better off if the hard-working men and women continue to patrol the streets and pick up the trash. Let's hope their leaders do the right thing.