MAGOV14 : CHARLIE BAKER’S BEST POLL NUMBERS YET SEND A MESSAGE

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^ being a Massachusetts governor means speaking Massachusetts language : Charlie Baker speaking Massachusetts-ese to voters at a meet and greet

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The Boston Globe’s new poll of Massachusetts’s Governor election yields Charlie Baker his best numbers yet. He now polls 36 percent, while his likely Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, draws only 39 percent.

Last week, the same poll had it Coakley 40, Baker 35. And that poll was a better Baker result than the previous Globe poll, which showed Coakley at 40, Baker at 32.

Clearly, Baker is amassing support, and doing so the best way : slowly, gradually, one voter at a time, so to speak. He is doing it as it should be done : by increasing his own support, not by taking support away from an opponent.

The strongest campaigns take care to run themselves : not to negate the other guy or gal, but to create a Yes and add many Yes’s to it. Positive support is hard to lose. Voters voting against one candidate can be swayed easily; their loyalty is to “dislike,” not to a candidate. Baker will surely take votes from people disliking his opponent, but he much prefers — or should much prefer — votes that want him no matter who the opponent is.

Baker seems to understand that in Massachusetts, voters for offices other than national do not vote party, they vote the man or woman. And though in November, there’ll only be two candidates, it’s much wiser for a candidate to run against all of his or her rivals than to pray for the “right” November opponent. Baker is doing that. He is running as if he, Coakley, Grossman, and Berwick were all in the same primary. This is how one wins in Massachusetts.

One runs for Governor of Massachusetts not on a party basis, because the issues aren’t party issues. 80 % of Massachusetts voters know what they want : a positive agenda, progressive but not pie in the sky, well managed, reformist, sensible and flexible, on issues economic, administrative, judicial; on energy policy, criminal justice, immigration. The one issue that almost all Massachusetts voters agree should be uncompromised is civil rights. A governor must voice passionately full rights for every sort of person. A governor candidate who trims on civil rights is in trouble; one who opposes them is toast.

Because 80% of Massachusetts voters agree on what they want and to what degree, the deciders become (1) who can do the job the best (2) whose priorities do we want and (3) who can best work with the Legislature to get them done.

None of this is a party matter. Baker gets this. His campaign has been devoid of party bias. He is campaigning in Massachusetts language and doing so convincingly.

Baker is quite lucky that none of his three opponents matches his command of Massachusetts-speak. Berwick cannot do so because his policy agenda is too radical. Coakley cannot do so because she speaks vague rather than competence. Steve Grossman can’t do so because his support rises from the Democratic party voters who insist on being Democrats first. The party Is their agenda, as it is not for at least two-thirds of Massachusetts voters. Only of late — probably too late — has Grossman begun to sound less like a Democrat and more like a Massachusetts. He remains far, far behind Coakley in the new Boston Globe poll.

But now to the Poll and its message about Baker.

Baker’s favorable-unfavorable-not well enough known numbers are 47 to 18 to 35.
Coakley’s numbers in this regard are 54 to 37 to 9.
Grossman’s numbers here stand at 33 to 14 to 52.
Don Berwick’s numbers embarrass his progressivism : 10 to 5 to 85.

Head to head, Baker gets 36 percent to Coakley’s 39; 37 to Grossman’s 29; and 42 to Don Berwick’s 18.

On the issues, Massachusetts voters differ hugely from voters in “red” states :

Do you own a gun ? 66 % say no, only 30 % say yes.
Should we have stricter gun control ? 47 % say yes, 35 % say we have enough; only 15 % say we should have less gun control.
Should the casino law be repealed ? 51 % say no, 41 % say yes.
Do you feel safe at night ? 96 % ay yes, only 4 % say no.
Do you feel safe walking your neighborhood at night ? 84 % say yes, only 13 % say no.

Clearly Massachusetts voters are not ruled by fear and thus are not obsessed by guns. Indeed, far more people (37 %) have a very unfavorable opinion of the NRA than the 17% who have a very favorable opinion of it.

28 % of our voters identify as liberals, 28 % as conservatives, although of the 39% who identify as moderates there is a 26 to 39 lean toward conservative. Query, however, what Massachusetts voters mean by “conservative.” i doubt that they mean Tea Party or Koch Brothers. Probably more a state of mind than a political agenda.

Massachusetts voters are optimistic about themselves and their community, pragmatic, open minded, wanting reform but not repeal — a way of saying “decided questions should remain decided” — and ready to think as citizens, not loners. Thinking as citizens, Massachusetts voters want a governor who knows what he or she believes in, who can articulate an agenda authoritatively, who speaks the phrases of flexibility, open to new facts and situations, able to change his or her mind if need be, to walk back inadequate remarks without hedging; a shrewd dealer and a good guy or gal who treats everyone as a friend and neighbor.

As you must already have surmised, that is a description of Charlie Baker.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

FIXING THE DCF : NO EASY TASK. THE BOSTON AREA CASINO : NO EASY PICK

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^ why is this woman smiling ? Olga Roche has resigned as DCF’s boss

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The big news this morning in Boston is that DCF Commissioner Olga Roche has resigned.

This was a certainty, once House Speaker DeLeo demanded it. Yesterday he did just that, at a press conference at which he angrily insisted that she go. The deaths of two more children in DCF (Department of families and Children) oversight had nothing to do with DCF budget cuts, said DeLeo.

State Senate President Therese Murray joined DeLeo’s call.

The failures at DCF have become all too tragic and known to all. We at Here and Sphere have called for the entire DCF system to be re-configured and upgraded. DCF’s methods are out of date, its technology 20 years behind the times at least, its staff communication hit or miss, its management slow to act. All of this can be changed, renovated, transformed. Can be and must be. 100 million in DCF budget cuts must be restored. The mandated case load limit for social workers must be enforced.

The resignation of Olga Roche will achieve none of that. Who will now run the agency ? No one with any career prospects would dare to say yes.

Some blame Governor Patrick for the failures of DCF and, in particular, for not firing Olga Roche sooner. I don’t agree with them. Governor Patrick knew well that firing Olga Roche would do nothing to make DCF a more responsive agency. The governor’s best course was, and still is, to set in motion a comprehensive review of DCF practices, recommend big changes, and then implement them.

The media are full of reports that DCF staff missed meetings with parents, misplaced faxes — faxes, in the age of twitter ! — missed communication, sloppy oversight. All true. But let’s remember that the families that DCF monitors are highly dysfunctional : drug abusers, neglecting their children, homes filthy; a mother who usually does not work and probably can’t, who lacks basic skills and isn’t attuned to keeping appointments or making them. It’s terribly difficult to get things done for, with, or by way of people in this state of advanced social crisis. A very high degree of pro-active social work is needed, backed up by very pro-active supervision.

Try doing it sometime.

Olga Roche has left the job even as I write. Her leaving satisfies the political imperatives, but it will, by itself, change absolutely nothing. It may even deceive the public into thinking that it was all Roche’s fault and things will now be much better. This would be a big mistake.

*** UPDATE : today Governor Patrick named Erin Deveney, a veteran manager at the RMV, to be interim head of DCF ***

The other big news concerns the Boston area casino license. Until recently, I felt quite certain that Steve Wynn’s Everett plan would easily beat out Mohegan Sun’s Revere project. Now I’m not so sure. The land upon which Wynn wants to build is owned, it seems, by at least one person with a criminal past, and, as it was once a Monsanto chemical Company facility, is filled with extremely toxic waste. The waste can be cleaned; the criminals, not so easy.

The named criminal, one Lightbody, says that he sold his interest in the Monsanto site long ago; but the Boston Globe reports that one of the present owners refuses to sear an affidavit that no current interest is owned by a person with a criminal record. the same Boston Globe report quotes Lightbody as having ownership of a nearby — and quite infamous — strip club “wrapped up tight.”

It’s all quite seedy, and given the public perception of casinos as havens of criminal money, it cannot be good news for Steve Wynn. Nor is the talk of high-price land purchases by the City of Everett, taxpayer paid.

This the momentum shifts over to Mohegah Sun and the City of Revere. First, the land on which Mohegan sun plans to build is already owned by their Suffolk Downs partner. To my knowledge, it contains no toxic waste. second, the City oF Revere has inked mitigation agreements with many communities (to be fair, so has Steve Wynn), with the prospect of more. The voters of Charlestown and Chelsea strongly support the Revere plan. So, too, does Mayor Walsh, although of late he has bargained for a host-community mitigation agreement rather than the smaller sum due a mere adjoiner. And though Revere’s recent casino vote produced only a 2 to 1 approval, as oppose to the 9 to 1 vote in Everett, Mayor Dan Rizzo has pushed every button available to make Revere’s “Yes” a loud one.

Mayor Carlo deMaria of Everett, no amateur in the pressure push game, has pushed back. Last night the Everett city council voted 10-1 to approve the Mayor’s Lower Broadway urban renewal plan, upon which the Steve Wynn casino projects depend and which includes a $ 35 million purchase of the Monsanto site (then to be resold to Wynn at the same price). Lower Broadway in Everett is a hotch-potch of industrial usages, non-use, blight and ugly. Renewing it to accommodate Wynn’s gleaming-glass, swimming pool and diamond dreams palace would sweep all that blankety-blank away. It’s a strong argument, and last night it won.

For deMaria last night’s vote was a crucial step toward victory. He will need many more, and these will be much, much harder to win. Mohegan sun is definitely in the game. Six months ago, i would not have predicted it.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

HOW CASINO POLITICS DETERMINED THE 2ND SUFFOLK…AND MORE

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  • ^ got lucky, dodged a missile : Dan Ryan
  • The 2nd Suffolk state Representative race won on Tuesday by Charlestown was the big story of the night — I said so, and I’m sticking to it. But in the politics of casino development there’s an even larger story surrounding that one.
  • As it happened, the 2nd Suffolk race was won by exactly the man who looked a winner of it from day one : Dan Ryan. Yet as strong as his campaign flexed, he dodged a missile when, on the night of Febraury 25th, Revere voted 64 to 36 in favor of the Mohegan Sun / Suffolk Downs project. Consider this :
  • 1.Ryan faced a Charlstown rival, Chris Remmes, who made opposurion to all casinos a pivot of his campaign. Remmes raised plenty of campaign ,oney early and had a power base in the Ward 2 Democratic committee, which he chairs.

    2.Charlestown voters overwhelmingly do not want the Steve Wynn casino project planned for the Everett waterfront. At a hugely attended meeting at charlestown High School they made their opposition very plain.

    3.Dan Ryan favors the Revere casino, as did his Chelsea popponent, Roy avellaneda. Ryan’s large following among Building trades and transport workiers also favor a casino — b ut preferably the Revere choice — as does a key Ryan supporter, Mayor Walsh.

    4.had the Revere casino vote been won by the “no casino” crowd, Ryan would now have been squeezed both ways. Oppose the only remaining casino option — Everett — and his building trades supporters might well have gone with Roy Avellaneda. Support the Everett casino, and Ryan risked losing votes to Chris Remmes, even the election itself.

    Opposition to the Everett casino was indeed THAT strong in most Charlestown homes. Walsh, too, who lost Charlestown badly in last year’s Mayor race, would have found himself again at odds with a community that doesn’t change allegiances easily.

    That was the prospect facing Ryan (and Walsh) as, with fingers crossed, they awaited news of how Revere had voted on the Tuesday night before the 2nd Suffolk special election day. as we all know now, it didn’t happen. Revere voted Yes, Chris Remmes’s campaign lost its reason for beimg, and Ryan (and Walsh) could joyously tout the Revere casino plan, taking away Avellaneda’s hoped-for issue, and pleasing all supporters and offending none on his way to the big victory that he got on March 4th.

    But it might easily have come crashing down.

    Nor is the casino game over in the 2nd Suffolk District.

    In September, when Ryan runs for election to a full term, the Gaming Commission will likley have issued its decision. What if it selects the Steve Wynn, Everett proposal, as seems likely given the plan’s waterfront location and superior brand name ? What position will Ryan take, now as Charlestown’s elected voice ? And then there’s the man most responsible for Ryan’s election : Congressman Mike Capuano. Will he step into the Steve Wynn casino battle and help Ryan deflect possible opposition from C town ? I’m guessing that the two men have talked much about this prospect and what to do if it comes to pass. It wouldn’t surprise me if they wee already moving the Gaming Commission to pick the Revere option. If the Commission does take that route, you can bet six Navy Yard Bistro dinners that Ryan and Capuano were forcefully on it.

    Marty Walsh, too. With Ryan’s election, Walsh got lucky, more or less. A Revere decision by the Gaming Commission would double Walsh’s luck.

    — Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere