Massachusetts, unlike many states, elects its Treasurer. The office merits decision by the voters. The Treasurer oversees the billion-dollar state lottery; invests the state’s money; guides state workers’ pension funds and retirement accounts; and collects unclaimed property accounts, monies that can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

For the past four years, Steve Grossman has held the office. He has made it an activist, innovative position : one of his most significant moves was to invest the state’s money accounts in Massachusetts banks only and require them to extend lending to businesses (and start ups) owned by veterans, immigrants, women, and people of color.

To succeed him, the ballot offers two choices, Democrat Deb Goldberg and Republican Mike Heffernan. Both are well qualified to manage money and investments as complex as the state’s. Heffernan, who lives in Wellesley, has been a securities analyst for at least 25 years and makes the state’s pension liability a top priority. Goldberg, a Brookline resident, is a member of the family that founded and, until recently, owned the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, for which she oversaw cash management and accounts. She also served as a Brookline selectwoman for six years and there acquired expertise in managing that wealthy town’s substantial fund accounts.

Goldberg’s selectwoman service accords her a slight edge over the well-spoken Heffernan, new to high level politics; but we are endorsing her for an entirely different reason.

Because we endorsed Charlie Baker for Governor, and because the Governor and Treasurer both are given the task of directing the state’s income — the Governor formulating the budget and prioritizing spending, the Treasurer managing the income — we think it wiser to have the two offices held by citizens of different political parties.

In the discussions that must take place between Governor and Treasurer on fiscal matters, it is vital that all the citizens be represented, not just those of one or the other party.

Of course having Governor and Treasurer of different parties assumes that each cares for the interests of citizens more than for party interests. Baker and Goldberg both meet this test.

One other factor influences our choice : Goldberg’s campaign has been assembled chiefly by labor unions; and labor unions have a major interest in seeing the state’s pensions and retirement accounts fully funded. Public worker unions have had to make concessions, in recent legislative sessions, on contributions to health insurance. It wasn’t easy; more concessions may be asked if our state’s economy doesn’t grow more capaciously. It’s important that the Treasurer have their full confidence.

Goldberg has their confidence. She has the business clout to discuss investment and money management on a par with former Harvard Pilhgrim CEO Charlie Baker. She’s our choice for state Treasurer.

—- The Editors / Here and Sphere


GBLC Breakfast

The leadership and activists of most Boston-based labor unions have moved strongly into the Governor campaign during this, the last ten days of it. A few, SEIU especially, were already there, all-in as eaarly as before the Primary. Now most of the other unions have joined them.

The question is, “why ?” Why now ?

It’s too late, most likely, and too little, to change the outcome. One union activist likes to tell me that in last year’s Boston Mayor election Marty Walsh’s labor supporters knocked on 30,000 doors. But they started their effort much earlier, and faced an electorate 150,000 strong. In the Governor election, 2,000,000 people will vote. A proportionate labor effort would require them to knock on 400,000 doors.

They know the math as well as do the Governor candidates. So why are they doing it ? Why all the physical effort to influence, at best, about 20,000 votes ?

The answer : 2016. The Presidential campiagn has already begun. In it, labor unions are determined to have a major say in — even to choose — which Democrat is nominated. In last year’s Mayor election, the determination of union labor (not all, but most) to choose a labor man as Mayor, and to attack his equally Democratic, but decidedly Clintonian, opponent in the event, almost split the Massachusetts Democratic party. That, and the split between Democrats for Education Reform and teachers’ unions, set a stage — as I forecasted then in several Here and Sphere columns — now moves to the next step.

That step beagn on Friday, as Hillary Clointon took the speaker’s podium at park plaza hotel. She came here ostensibly on behalf of the local Democratic ticket, but, more likely, on behalf of herself. And if she runs, she now looks unstoppable. Polls accord her from 58 to 67 percent of Democratic Primary voters, Vice President Joe Biden about 14 percent. And then there’s Senator Elizabeth Warren — whom few Massachusetts voters want to see run for President. As if sentiment could caution ambition.

Which of these becomes the nominee matters hugely bto labor unions. As we see, the wages of most workers have stagnated or fallen since ten to fifteen years ago, while the salaries of top managers and CEOs has boomed exponentially. Most wage earners can’t do much more these days than pay the necessities. Many live one pay check from broke. The Boston building boom, like the Big Dig before it, has put big wages into the budgets of building trades unionists; but for service workers and most industrial unions, wages are losing ground to living costs; unfair labor practices abound too; and the nation’s labor laws have lost much of their sting through weak, even non-existent enforcement.

No labor union leader wants these conditions to worsen, nor to continue. They want a better deal; justice says they should have it; but economic justice wull be hard to win. thus the battle for it has to begin now, and it has.

The Governor race has seen the effect of labor’s urgency. Many unions might well have endorsed Charlie Baker, who as overseer of the Big Dig, was a good friend to construction workers. The Hotel Workers endorsed Bill Weld in 1990. They might have done so this time too : Baker has, since May, put a proposal out to sell state owned land, in Boston especially, to developers at a small price in order to generate the building of affordable housing. He says of his plan, “Mayor Walsh is making permitting easier; labor will always be expensive, but there’s no reason why land acquisition should be.” Note the words about labor. To my ears, that is an offer : under Baker’s plan, everything will be made easy so that construction workers can “always” earn “expensive” wages.

I think that what has happened since, between labor unions and the Governor campaign, is this ; because labor unions are trying to dominate the Democratic party for 2016, they can’t very well bolt it by endorsing Baker. But they can, and have, withheld commitment to the Democratic ticket until very late; so late that their campaign will advance their influence within the party while not changing the Beacon Hill outcome. If I’m right, it’s a very smart move, one that suggests some — not all — labor leaders have learned how to naviagate political waters bigger than their footprint but liquid enough to be redirected to the right economic beach.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere