THE BUSIEST CAUTIOUS MAN EVER ?

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^ the Governor at affordable housing ground-breaking in Downtown Boston

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For a man whose decision process by-word is “caution,” Governor Baker has certainly been activist busy these past couple of weeks. Most timely of his moves of late has to be the $ 6.7 million dollars awarded, pursuant to the “Shannon Community Safety Initiative” to communities experiencing gang youth difficulties. In particular, this program is awarding Boston $ 1,365,434.46 at a time when gang violence has erupted in East Boston as well as continuing in Dorchester and Mattapan.

[ NOTE : What is the “Shannon Community Safety Initiative” for which such legislated grants are appropriated ? Link to the program here : http://www.mass.gov/eopss/funding-and-training/justice-and-prev/grants/shannon-csi/shannon-community-safety-initiative-overview.html ]

It cannot be easy for Baker to deploy activist state government, as he is doing, given the skepticism of government rampant in his GOP, not to mention his passion about avoiding governance mistakes. He has no choice, however. Breakdowns in society hurt actual people, hinder economic growth, necessitate digressive state services. Baker has made it his bottom line that, “all the voters want, at the end of the day, is for government to work.” He does not say “part of state government.’ He includes it all. Steering youth at risk away from gangs onto the education path to successful employment is a huge part of the “all” that Baker pledges to get working properly.

Thus Brockton, for example, gets $ 425,692; Fall River (where Here and Sphere is based), $ 452,754.68; Holyoke and Chicopee, $ 479,594.20; Lowell, $ 563,778.45; inner Middlesex County cities, $ 343,991.69; New Bedford, $ 496,192.66; Springfield, $ 717,569.13; and Worcester, $ 506,992.66.

Yes, readers, it costs money to put state-run initiatives to work. Please note the amounts. The sum given to Holyoke and Chicopee far outweighs their population size, as does the amount slated to Brockt0n. Yet these cities are home to unyielding youth troubles. It’s where Shannon funds are needed.

Political types will also note that none of the communities awarded large Shannon monies are Republican voting; and Baker is of that party. But as he has said all along,. he is Governor of all and will campaign to all. There’s no other way, no matter what those who distrust government — even question its legitimacy — may expect of a Baker.

In like vein, Baker welcomed the $ 1.1 billion Federal funds appropriated in President Obama’s FY 2017 budget to address opioid prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic. Said Baker : “President Obama’s comprehensive proposal aimed to help states combat the opioid epidemic, including additional funds to expand treatment options and overdose prevention efforts, is a positive development for Massachusetts’ own efforts to address this public health crisis. It is encouraging that the President is taking action on a recommendation from our opioid working group to create a pilot program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine.”

If so far I had not mentioned the MBTA, it’s not that reform thereof has halted — far from it. Big decisions face Baker5’s Fiscal Control Board, relative to T worker pension reform, curbing abuse of sick day accumulation and overtime hours, funding infrastructure upgrades, and re-contracting Green Line expansion. All these continue even as baker commits to the vast challenges posed by addiction, mental health, youth at risk, and public safety. Not to mention close monitoring of the DCF, which has yet to demonstrate mastery of its own huge dysfunction.

All of these tasks Baker has taken on despite the unavailability, at crisis time, of his operative caution — or his skepticism about expenditure. Much easier it must be, politically, to preside, as he did on Thursday, at a ground-breaking in downtown Boston, of an affordable housing complex immediately across the street from, TD Garden. There, with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his policy partner, Baker extolled developer Bob Beal for going all in on Boston’s biggest economic need : housing that people not earning six figure incomes can afford to pay for.

This, at least, is one policy priority of Baker’s that the state does not need to foot the entire bill for. At the ground-breaking, the busily careful Governor smiled.

—- 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.

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