MAGOV14 : GOVERNING IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST ?

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^ optimism ; Charlie Baker as the attitude guru

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As I look closely, very closely, at the statements made by Charlie Baker and by Martha Coakley, at the section headings in their plans, at which interest groups their positions mirror, I look in vain for recognition of ALL the people.

Martha Coakley’s plan headings, and her campaign army, represents much of organized labor, its issues and its priorities. Charlie Baker’s plan headings, and his explications and policies, reflect the priorities of organized business groups, while his ground forces represent the anti-tax activists who have pressured state government for at least three decades.

Baker’s education plan, which emphasizes charter schools and “innovation,’ suggests that he would entrust much of the state’s schooling to business groups — an issue in last year’s mayor election and still an issue, as Democrats For Education Reform (DFER) learned the hard way. Meanwhile, Martha Coakley’s embrace of and by the state’s uncompromising teachers’ unions contradicts the state’s education reform plans , so vitally needed as the workplace revolutonizes even as i write.

Martha Coakley talks a lot about workers’ rights and economic inequality, and she is right to focus thereon. Meanwhile, Baker addresses joblessness and workforce development to get people out of work back to work. Are these interests really that mutually exclusive ?

Baker too offers reforms for workers ; supporting a higher minimum age and expanding the earned income tax credit. But on the matter of paid sick leave, where Coakley supports the referendum question (Number 4) on November’s ballot, Baker says he ‘supports the concept”:but nor the specific question ; which is precisely the language used by organized business groups opposing the ballot question.

Frankly, I have no choice bit to reject all of this special pleading. My decision to support Baker is based on promises that almost everybody will benefit by ;: his vow to transform state administration, create transparency and demand effectiveness, so that tall the people of Massachusetts can get the services we have entrusted the state to offer us.

Beyond that one promise, for which Coakley offers no equivalent, the two candidates offer pies and mudpies — worthy goals, but also wrong-headedness; attention to some people, no mention of others. I especially dislike Baker’s piecemeal approach to full transgender civil rights and his plan’s assumption that people seeking public assistance are schemers trying to game the system. And of course is view that jobs are created by businesses, rather than by consumer demand, is as false economics as can be. But Coakley doesn’t escape my dislike either. She offers no path to school improvement, fudges immigration issues, goes blank on gun control, and doesn’t seem to have heard of “innovation.” Beyond her advocacy for workers’ rights — her strongest campaign point — she’s she candidate of things as they are.

Special pleading as it is, i’d rather Baker’s obsession for business than Coakley’s world of Pangloss. Baker may be able to nudge his business buddies toward fairer wage and benefits laws. Service workers need these ! Baker knows it.

He will almost certainly partner with Building Trades unions, the Hotel and Hospitality Workers of Local 26, and maybe even the IBEW : how else to keep the Boston building boom going and to extend it beyond Route 495?

These unions are as business-friendly as it gets. Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci knew this. Baker learned his political craft from them.

Baker might even be able to coax his Club of Executives into school classroom culture and curriculum reform. It probably won’t be what I’d ideally like — for school reform I much prefer what Marty Walsh and John McDonough are implementing in Boston — but at least with baker there will be change and discussions for further change. Whereas with Martha Coakley there will be “same old stuff.”

i suppose that’s what a major election eventually grinds down to. The two opposing collections of interest groups command the talk, enlist the ground troops, and force each candidate to offer but half a loaf which by all rights should be whole. But having thus forced, their fuel is exhausted, and the election proceeds to contest action against inertia.

All, of which means that after the new governor is elected, citizens will have to keep the pressure on full bore, or else an advocacy campiagn will become a special pleading administration. We cannot settle for this.

NEXT : what the new governor will have to do by way of taxes, and why

—- Mike Freedberg / here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

2 thoughts on “MAGOV14 : GOVERNING IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST ?”

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