MAGOV14 : WHAT THE DORCHESTER DAY PARADE SHOWED ME

1 charlie b aker and karyn polito

^ right now, the team to beat : Karyn Polito and Charlie Baker

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Governor campaigns in Massachusetts resemble no other partisan election here. Whatever the polarization poisoning elections to national office, none have any force when our commonwealth’s voters go to choose who will run things at the State House. It was proved to me forcefully, yesterday at the iconic Dorchester day parade. There, marching over three miles along Dorchester Avenue from Lower Mills to Columbia Road, Republican candidate Charlie Baker got a very enthusiastic reception from the crowd — mot of whose hands he shook. There, in the heartland of Marty Walsh’s almost entirely Democratic-enrolled wards of Boston, Baker — and his electrifying running mate Karyn Polito — conquered all. Beyond the reception, which might well be just a nicety, there was commitment given by many activists and neighborhood leaders whom i talked to. There was also, so a first hand source told me, a very good bond established– revived — even celebrated — between Mayor Walsh and both Baker and Polito, conversing before the parade’s start, with whom, after all, Walsh served during his legislative time. I do not suppose a commitment was given; that wouldn’t work. But my source’s impression — that of a political activist — was that Baker, Polito, and Walsh made it clear to each other that they could work together and would work together if Baker is elected. One friend, who is himself a candidate this year (not for Governor), seeing the reception given to Baker, told me quite directly : “Baker’s gonna win.” There are several solid reasons why Baker and Polito look so strong right now : 1. Baker and Polito are running as a team. On the Democratic side, with four (of five) governor hopefuls running and three (or four) lieutenant governor hopefuls, who knows who will be the ticket ? Or if they can work together, even like one another ? In addition, none of the Democratic candidates or the second spot has anything close to the experience that Karyn Polito has, not to mention the charisma. 2. Baker — and Polito — have forged solid ties to several big-city ethnic communities, not to mention the LGBT communities. I’ve personally witnessed it and seen the results as I have talked to many, many people whom I know in all these communities. The reception given baker and Polito at the Dorchester Day parade tells me that, as of now, they’d win a much bigger share of the Boston vote than any of the Democratic hopefuls : possibly as much as 40 %. Of course the election is NOT now. But the momentum and presence is there. 3.The fundamental fact of how Massachusetts is governed is that only a GOP governor has a power base big enough, and independent enough, to deal with the Speaker of the House on a more or less equal footing. When the governor is a Democrat, he or she and the Speaker compete for influence within the same party — or else they split the party, and as has been shown time and again, the Speaker always wins that fight. It’s his agenda, his priorities, his timing, his details, that get enacted. With a strongly based GOP governor — and baker would be that — there’s influence on legislation beyond the Speaker’s range of power, and a GOP governor isn’t embarrassed, as Governor Patrick has been, facing a Speaker who is also a Democrat, to compromise with a Speaker not of his own party. Thus the fact ; a GOP governor and Democratic Speaker move the state forward with strong political efficiency. At last night’s Governor / Lieutenant Governor Forum at Roxbury Community College, all of the weaknesses of the Democratic position stood in plain sight. The lieutenant governor trio — Mike Lake, Steve Kerrigfan, James Arena-DeRosa- either bloviated with great prolixity Lake) or talked blue ribbon agendas that would do justice to a high school civics aclass but on which no elected lieutenant governor — certainly not these three, whom no one but activists has ever heard of — would have the slightest influence. The governor hopefuls definitely have learned a thing or two since I first saw them on stage Forum-ing. At the Roxbury event several actually mentioned Speaker DeLeo, quite respectfully too. Clearly they see that they had better include him in their message, because of exactly the problem i have outlined. The matter is not merely my own thing. at several recent Forums, progressives have pushed the governor hopefuls ; what exactly will you do about the Spreaker’s conservatism ? the answer that i heard most often last night was “compromise.” That they will have to do, because the agendas set forth by several at the Forum reach for the moon, a place that does not include Speaker DeLeo in its population. It is not a good sign when candidates feel the need to mae promises which they surely cannot keep, just as surely will have to unravel if they’re to get anything at all done. And much needs be done. Juliette Kayyem continues to get the fundamental point, one that Charlie baker has been talking for two months ; the state needs to modernize its systems big time. Baker calls it “move the state’s technology into the 21st Century,” Kayyem calls it “better data management,’ but the policy point is the same. Steve Grossman soke the Forum’s best answer, to any question, when in two minutes he summed up the injustice and the financial waste of incarcerating people for low level drug offenses. His message is too “jobs and business” to fit the progressive dream, but time and again he shows long and profound command of social justice issues. Clearly as governor he will be as aggressive as possible ; “level playing field, no one left out.” Yet Grossman has no more, or longer, commitment to social justice issues than Baker, and so far I have yet to see a Grossman plan that surpasses the social justice, economic connection tandem that Charlie Baker has put forth. All of what i have just written can change. Next weekend the democrats convene to choose a party nominee. After that, media focus will shift to that nominee and to the Democratic run up to the September primary. Baker will no longer have the voters basically to himself. And if the Democratic nominee has to play catch-up — ironic, in this bluest of states on national issues — there’s plenty of Democratic voters to play catch up with. Still, Baker and Polito have given themselves a huge head start; and my experience says that votes won early are the votes won most solidly. Steve Grossman, now the likely Democratic nominee, has a huge fight on his hands.

—- 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

 

IN MASSACHUSETTS, AN UNCONSCIONABLE INJUSTICE

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^ some call it homicide : Joshua Messier, a schizophrenic, dies at Bridgewater

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We like to think of our state as a beacon of progressivism. Don Berwick, a candidate for governor, calls us that. Our history justifies the call. Unhappily, we do not always live up to our reputation. What has happened these past years at Bridgewater State Hospital shames it.

The death of Joshua Messier, a young schizophrenic, at Bridgewater, is known to all of us thanks to much recent media attention. Some have called his death at the hands of Bridgewater employees a homicide. Even if not that, the death should never have happened. Frankly, Messier should not have been placed in the Bridgewater we now learn about, a horror in which residents are abused — tortured, as an editorial in today’s Boston Globe makes clear.

It is time to close Bridgewater entirely and to establish residential options for all the people now forcibly kept there.

The injustice reeks all the more because as long ago as the 1960s we thought we had ended the horrible career of Bridgewater. I remember the “Titicut Follies” movie, directed by Frederick Wiseman, that — to quote Wikipedia — “graphically depicted the existence of occupants of Bridgewater, some of them catatonic, holed up in unit cells, and only periodically washed….inmates/patients required to strip naked publicly, force feeding, and indifference and bullying on the part of many of the institution’s staff.”

The movie exploded into public discussion, sensationally; but from it came what we thought was major reform. Cerrtainly the systematic torture of Bridgewater patients was curbed, the worst abuses put an end to.

We were wrong..

As the op-ed by Roderick MacLeish and Stephen Delinsky describes, mentally ill people at Bridgewater are isolated, tied down, denied any diversion at all, restrained perhaps for two days, forced to defecate into a bed pan.

The frustration and anger go deeper still. MacLeish and Delinsky tell us that in 1988 (!) they “negotiated a settlement agreement involving Bridgewater that created a secure, therapeutic hospital setting where men with serious mental illness and no criminal history could be treated in a human way…(but)… in 2003, the hospital was defunded.”

Mitt Romney was our governor when that was done.

Yet Governor Patrick cannot put the blame for recent Bridgewater on Romney. Patrick has been governor since 2006 and has made no move that I am aware of to do anything about Bridgewater abuses. (Indeed, Patrick has continued the defunding of state social services, cutting the budget for Massachusetts DCF by over 100 million since 2009. we live with the tragic consequences of that de-funding even as I write.)

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^ much to answer for : Governor Deval Patrick

As I stated at the beginning of this editorial, candidate Don Berwick has much to say about Massachusetts being progressive. He proposes many initiatives that seem quite extreme — some of them unwise. Even if one thinks them worthy, one hears not a word from Berwick, who is a pediatrician and touts his proficiency in health issues, about Bridgewater or the state’s abuses there.

If a man like Berwick does not speak up, who in power will ? Charlie Baker ? Maybe. We shall see.

It is time for Massachusetts to close Bridgewater entirely and thus extinguish forever the culture of abuse that dominates it. House the criminally insane in a new institution established with rigid guidelines for treatment first, custody second. Offer comfortable residential options to mentally ill men with no criminal history, staffed by health care professionals, not prison guards. Appoint an ombudsman to monitor the enterprise. And pay substantial financial compensation to those who have suffered at Bridgewater, in some cases for many years, along with a full, public apology to them and their loved ones.

In Massachusetts, we do usually get it right. But only through constant vigilance do we keep the vehicle of progress moving up the road. It’s time for some serious keeping. Let’s do it.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

#MAGOV : “WISH” LISTS vs. “DO” LISTS

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^ Just DO it : Charlie baker with Karyn Polito supporters in Leominster (photo by Baker campaign)

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The contest for Massachusetts Governor has taken on a definite shape during the past three days. The biggest shaping force has been Charlie Baker’s, given as his response to Governor Patrick’s state of the Commonwealth speech. Baker used the occasion to announce his support for raising the state’s minimum wage and for expanding the earned income credit. The news surprised almost everyone. It contradicted recent GOP orthodoxy — you know, the whole “job creators,” no ACA, no minimum wage legislation mantra — and also went beyond what most of the Democratic candidates have suggested. Baker also accepted Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo’s minimum wage raise requirement, that there be some give-back on umployment insurance contributions.

I wrote yesterday about Baker’s announcement and its implications ; these merit repeating. First, Baker established that he will join with Speaker DeLeo on minimum wage legislation. No Democratic candidate has yet done so; when specifically asked what they would do if the Speaker rdejected their legislation, all avoided answering. Second, by embracing doable (and very popular) legislation to relieve income inequity, Baker has vetoed all those GOP-ish advocacy groups (such as Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance) that oppose “using government to make people’s lives better” (as Mayor Walsh has stated his mission). And this may actually be the hugest consequence of Baker’s announcement. Right now I cannot think of a single Republican Governor, Senator, Congress person — or GOP candidate for these offices — who embraces minimum wage hikes and expanding the earned income credit. Whether Baker’s announcement has national GOP implications I can’t yet say; but for Massachusetts its consequence could not be weightier. He has taken the Massachusetts GOP back not just to Weld-Cellucci — whose administrations Baker was part of and mentioned in his talk — but (as my old colleague Peter Kadzis mentioned to me) to the days of John Volpe, Eliot Richardson, Frank Sargent, and Ed Brooke — almost 50 years ago — when the Massachusetts GOP was the reform party, the advance guard of using government to benefit people.

Granted, that Baker is free to take this stand because the Tea Party has never had much ground in Massachusetts — in 2010, Tea candidates didn’t even get the 15 % of votes at the Republican convention needed to get their names on the ballot — and because the huge right-wing greedPACs that have all but kidnapped the national GOP, knowing how un-Tea this state is, don’t involve themselves here. Baker needs no greedPAC money. He has almost out-raised the five Democratic governor candidates combined. T

Baker’s move all but assures that he will have significant Democratic support in the November election. That is how it used to be for the Massachusetts GOP in state elections, Why not again ?

And here is where my headline for today’s column comes into play : “wish list” candidates versus “do list.” Most of Massachusetts’s 166 Democratic legislators and State Senators are realists — do list people, not wish listers. Their voters want stuff done first, talk stuff later. Massachusetts voters are quite common sensed about this. We send our inspirational wish listers to Washington — none more arch-typal than Elizabeth Warren — to voice our noblest wishes, ideals, hopes for a juster social future. To Beacon Hill, we send our grubs and drones to do the grub and drone work. Nor is our thinking wrong. Deval Patrick’s entire two terms has shown just how powerless wish list eloquence is to move the Speaker of the house — no matter who he was or now is — to support legislation. To cite just two examples ; Governor Patrick wanted casino legislation badly. When Sal DiMasi was Speaker and opposed, no casino.. Then came Robert DeLeo, supportive, and lo and behold, casino legislation, no problemo ! Second example : Governor Patrick wanted an enormous, $ 2 billion transportation bill; Speaker DeLeo wanted a much smaller bill. Guess whose “transpo bill” got enacted ?

We like to think of today’s GOP as missing the point of governance, but the Massachusetts Democratic party misses the point too. In its rush to speak nobly of social justice and the higher purposes of civic life, the Democrats of Massachusetts talk just as unrealistically about governing as do the GOP right-wingers. Yes, there is a “progessive caucus” in the Massachusetts Democratic party, and there’s one in the legislature too. What have they recently achieved ? CORI reform, maybe. But every other advance enacted by the legislature belongs entirely to the realists : charter schools, an $ 800 million “transpo bill,” casino legislation — vigorously opposed by “progressives” and right-wingers alike (Ha!)– electronic toll taking, divorce law reform, mandatory sentencing amendments. I often get the impression that the social justice focus of many Massachusetts Democrats arises as a reaction to GOP right-wing talk rather than for its own sake. A genuine progressive movement would be far more broadly based, out among the people — as was the Progressive movement of 110 years ago — broad enough to affect, even command, both political parties, not just one.

The five Democrats running for Governor cannot break free of these conditions, and only one has really tried : Steve Grossman. In forums he talks real talk about realistic goals. Even he has yet to admit that only in sync with the Speaker can he accomplish anything. Even he has yet to tailor his policy suggestions to the Speaker’s — and just yesterday, the Speaker made clear that the coming year’s State budget would include no tax hikes or fee increases. Still, Grossman talks the business-climate, innovation talk that, until two days ago, was Baker’s core message. He also of course supports minimum age legislation though not the Speaker’s conditions). At Forums, Grossman swims in a sea of words : perfume from Don Berwick, chatty niceties from Juliette Kayyem, and quiet sarcasm from Martha Coakley, and often gains a measure of respect thereby : surely the Forum attendees, most of whom will vote in the coming caucuses, understand that Grossman is climbing the mountain, not paragliding onto it. Yet the impulse to high-minded wish lists runs strong in the souls of our Democratic activists; strong enough that Grossman, even if he becomes the Democratic nominee, will be forced to divide his campaign between talking dreams and picking priorities. Baker right now faces no such division. His party’s angry philosophers have been put to bed, freeing him to focus on a do list that the Speaker can agree with and which thus can actually be enacted into state law. That’s a winning message in a Governor election.

Especially with do-nothing gridlock gripping Washington so completely, voters want state government to get good stuff done. Baker has beaten Steve Gossman to the get-good-stuff-done milepost.

—- Mike Freedberg / here and Sphere

#MAGOV : CHARLIE BAKER MAKES A BOLD MOVE

Baker Jan 13th 2014

^ bold to the front of the discussion : Charlie Baker on income inequity

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Yesterday Charlie Baker, Republican candidate for Governor, made a bold move: he did the right thing. Bold, because doing the right thing doesn’t happen often in Republican campaigns these days.

This is what Baker said : “I agree with Governor Patrick that Massachusetts is a remarkable state with limitless potential, but also a place where far too many are struggling and others are falling behind.

But I believe we can grow our economy, improve our education system, and strengthen our communities without raising taxes again and depleting the Rainy Day fund. We did it during the Weld-Cellucci Administration, and it can be done again.

I also believe we should make work pay for struggling families by raising the minimum wage while also enacting pro-growth reforms like unemployment insurance reforms, and by expanding the earned income tax credit for Massachusetts workers.

Lastly, I think we need real focus on fixing our healthcare problems. Too many Massachusetts families are stuck in healthcare limbo – having been dropped from their health plan and unable to sign up because of a bungled transition to an inadequate federal law. We had a great state system that was working, and we should fight to preserve and protect it.”

Baker’s statement — first reported by my old Boston Phoenix colleague David Bernstein, now an editor at Boston Magazine — hit almost every mark that it aimed at. He supports raising the minimum wage, as does almost everyone : but unlike any of his Democratic rivals, he also accepts Speaker DeLeo demand for adjusting unemployment insurance.

That’s the way for a Massachusetts Governor — of any party — to get his legislation enacted. It’s the only way. The Speaker rules. It’s been that way in Massachusetts for decades. The Democratic candidates for Governor either don’t understand this or are unwilling to admit it. Asked by State Representative Jay Kaufman, at his Lexington Governor Forum recently, “what will you do if the Speaker declines to support your legislation ?” Every single one of the five Democrats — including both the flamboyant Don Berwick and the earnest Steve Grossman, ducked or evaded the question. They looked weak, weak candidates for a weak office.

Baker has beaten them all here. By endorsing the minimum wage, he supports a pressing issue that almost everyone in the state wants. By endorsing Speaker DeLeo’s version of the minimum wage legislation, he ensures its enactment. Game and set, Baker.

He did more. In the words that I quoted, Baker also advocated raising the earned income credit. Not one of the Democratic candidates — only Berwick has mentioned it — has put support for an increase in the earned income credit forward in a context of and on a path to enactment. Game, set AND match, Baker.

Baker both congratulated Deval Patrick and gave one critique — of Massachusetts’s flawed health care connector. For most Republicans, a criticism of how the ACA has been implemented would just sound same old, same old. Not with Baker. By stepping up to the income inequity issue as he has, and by congratulating Patrick for his achievements, Baker has given his one critique a context of fairness that will garner attention, not a shrug.

Three weeks ago Baker released a Homelessness Crisis Paper that was a model of thorough and benefit. No Democrat has even now offered anything close, although some have said fine words, Berwick especially. Indeed, Baker looks more like a governor right now than any of the Democrats except Steve Grossman. If they’re the two who make it to the November election, Massachusetts will have two solid choices, with Baker perhaps the bolder and more progressive. I would not, quite frankly, have guessed this outcome as recently as six weeks ago. And I am glad to have been wrong.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

“A KID FROM TAFT STREET IS NOW MAYOR OF BOSTON !”

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^ taking the three-part oath as Boston’s 48th Mayor :Martin Joseph Walsh of District 3

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So said Marty Walsh after being sworn in as Boston’s 48th Mayor. Chief Justice Roderick Ireland swore Walsh in. Walsh’s Mom and brother and his gal-pal Lorrie Higgins stood by to watch the “kid from Taft Street” official become His Honor. It was a moving moment no matter which of the 12 Mayoral candidates you wanted. Walsh grew up without a big name, on a three-decker street, surrounded by temptations, some of which befell him. And now here he was, the City’s leader, holder of perhaps the most powerful elected office in Massachusetts.

Other men have traced the same kind of path from bottom to top. One thinks of Diocletian, Roman Emperor, yet born a slave, who rose, who educated himself. Or of Abraham Lincoln. Or Fiorello LaGuardia and Al Smith. It is, in fact, a commonplace of politics, that those on the bottom often believe in the system more truly than many on the top and who, aspiring, steel themselves to rise within it, no matter how long or painful the climb, and to become the steward of it and of all it represents. There have been innumerable Marty Walshes in history. And yet…it is still moving to see an actual Marty Walsh actually become Boston’s Mayor and to see the gathered thousands of Boston’s elite and non-elite actually there, in Conte Forum, to witness his becoming Mayor and to cheer it.

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^ Senator Elizabeth Warren delivering her remarks to “my friend Marty”

The powerful did not hang back. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke eloquently about the passion that she and Walsh, so she said, share for alleviating inequality and the achievement gap. Governor Deval Patrick, choosing a light comic note, told Walsh that he would wake up from “a day of blur” but to savor the moment anyway. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston also sat on stage. Yo Yo Ma performed the “Danny Boy Serenade” with dominant intensity and equally masterful delicacy. The entire City Council, all 13 members, sat on the other side of the podium and took its own oath. The front rows of the Forum found a seated multitude of descendants of former Mayors : Flynns, Whites, Fitzgeralds, Hyneses, Collinses — lending depth to the occasion’s topside.

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^ the gathered thousands included a huge segment from Dorchester, all of whom cheered loudly when their Councillor, Frank Baker, was sworn in.

Walsh then delivered an inaugural address sturdy and point by point clear. All the themes of his campaign took a turn : collaboration, diversity in staffing, improving education, ending the achievement gap, attacking violent crime, and assuring full equality to all Bostonians no matter what their sexual orientation, lifestyle or origin. He thanked “,my sisters and brothers in labor” — was roundly cheered — and almost in the next sentence said “let it be known that Boston is open for business.” Here he spoke of “innovation in every neighborhood, not just downtown” and of small business, start-ups, and businesses big.

It was a firm speech, confidently delivered, steady as she goes. Which may well be the defining tenor of Walsh’s administration.

And so you have it. Marty Walsh is your Mayor. Yep.

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^ from Chelsea, with what mission ? new corporations counsel Eugene O’Flaherty, currently chairman of the State’s House Judiciary Committee

Hardly two hours had elapsed after that “yep” when an announcement was made at least as portentous as the inauguration itself : State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, of Chelsea, is giving up his House seat and his House Judiciary Committee chairmanship, moving from Chelsea to Boston, and becoming Walsh’s chief corporations counsel : the city;s top lawyer. I admit that this choice surprised me completely. It was easy enough to believe that Walsh wanted O’Flaherty, who was first elected to the House in the same year as he (1996). The two men share much heritage. The difficult part for me was, why would O’Flaherty take the job ? He isn’t just a State Representative, he is one of the chamber’s key leaders. And also have to move house. There has to be a big story going on, and what it is, I can only speculate. It may involve the Steve Wynn casino project : O’Flaherty represents Charlestown, which Walsh did not come close to winning on election day and which will; be heavily impacted. Is O’Flaherty being asked to use his particular knowledge of the area to win the best mitigation package possible from Wynn, including — a top Walsh priority — construction jobs ? or perhaps to sue the Wynn project, or the Suffolk Downs Revere-only casino project if needed ?

We will soon find out.

We will also find out who Walsh chooses to head the other City departments. Of only one such did he say there would be a “nationwide search” : schools superintendent. Of course so. No Bostonian would want the thankless, frustrating job. (One of his two school committee appointments has already caused comment : replacing charter school principal Mary Tamer with labor lawyer Michael Loconto.) As the school committee appointment shows, not many Bostonians Walsh might name as superintendent would avoid raising an outcry from one interest group or another. Compared to schools superintendent, it’ll be easy to pick a Police Commissioner and one for the Fire Department. No nationwide search needed there.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

WHO WILL BE THE NEXT MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR ?

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Front runner : the GOP’s Charlie Baker

The election won’t take place until November of NEXT year. Yet already the big political talk state-wide is, “who will be our next Governor ?” As Deval Patrick is not, after two terms, running for re-election, the question matters.

There is no obvious successor. Many fit the role, but none dominates it. For the Democrats, Attorney General Martha Coakley looks most formidable; but State Treasurer Steve Grossman — who announced his candidacy yesterday — rates as supportable as well, and so also, on his resume alone, does Donald S. Berwick, a medical doctor best known as President Obama’s administrator of Medicare and Medicaid services.

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leading Democrat : attorney General Martha Coakley

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also strong : State Treasurer Steve Grossman

You would suppose that the presence of three such star-quality candidates would preclude the availability of a fourth: but you would be wrong. A second Obama administration official, Juliette Kayyem, is said to be preparing her candidacy. Kayyem appeals to those who believe that intellectual rulers should rule. She worked in the sardonically named “Department of Homeland Security,” lectures at Harvard University and writes op-eds for the Boston Globe. Kayyem is an all-in supporter of the secret surveillance state. Sadly, this is what the Democratic Party, once the courageous tribune of the rights of ordinary people, has just about become in paranoid America, 2013.

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Governor Snoop ? Democrat Juliette Kayyem is thinking about it.

Of course Kayyem might not actually declare. We hope she does not. State government has already become an enemy to many of the basic rights of ordinary people : think the recent and ongoing attack upon people receiving EBT benefits. Ponder the opposition to the Governor’s “transpo” bill and its new taxes, money needed if the state is to maintain, even improve, public transit, by which many ordinary Massachusetts people get to work. The last thing that ordinary Massachusetts citizens need right now is a governor trained in secret snooping.

Of all the Democrats likely to run, Martha Coakley has the best record of advocating for ordinary people. Her long campaign against the mortgage banks and their predatory, deceptive, and downright self-seeking lending and foreclosure practices deserves the congratulations of us all. Yet even Coakley has a tainted past. What Coakley watcher can forget how ruthlessly and unforgivingly she, as Middlesex District attorney, pursued the Fells Acres, day care providing Amirault Family back in the 1980s and for two decades thereafter ?

Despite which, Coakley looks to be the Democrats’ top gun, and that perception is currently well deserved.

Which brings us to the Massachusetts Republican Party. Since the local GOP has provided four of our last five governors — Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney — you might expect the GOP nominee to be the favorite to win in 2014. We think so too. Quite unlike the national party’s decline in civic morality and policy intelligence, the Massachusetts GOP features a long bench of A-list candidates, most of them progressive on every civil rights issue and some of them progressive even on economic agendas. Do not be misled by the dullness — except for Dan Winslow — of the GOP’s recent US Senate campaign. For the governorship, our local GOP has plenty to cheer about.

First up is Charlie Baker, an master administrator who ran in 2010 and would probably have won, had his campaign handled more deftly the presence of a strong third candidate. Baker is almost sure to run again.

It is thought that if he does not, former Senator Scott Brown will run. Brown is low-key, personable and still very much liked. He knows Beacon Hill well, having served in the legislature for ten years. The last State Senator to be elected Governor in his own right, the late Paul Cellucci, was an effective leader indeed.

(NOTE : Jane Swift had been a State Senator prior to becoming Lieutenant Governor. She succeeded to the Governorship when Cellucci was appointed Ambassador to Canada.)

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will he run ? Former Senator Scott Brown

Mary Z. Connaughton, who ran for state Auditor in 2010 and lost by one percentage point, might run if neither Baker nor Brown does so. She is an excellent campaigner and would be a superb candidate if she moves away from her retrograde views on social and civil rights issues.

Also possible candidates are Dan Winslow, by far the sharpest — and most under-funded — of the recent US Senate hopefuls, and Rich Tisei, a committed progressive, 16-year State Senator who lost a 2012 race for Congress by only 1,000 votes.

Clearly the Massachusetts GOP offers our citizens what a major political party should : credible candidates who stand for progressive policies beneficial to the many, not just the few. At least one such GOP candidate will run; and given the strength of the Democrats’ Coakley and Grossman — Berwick too — it should be a very intense election, with state infrastructure and education spending the prime issue : issues about which the Massachusetts GOP — so unlike the GOP nationally — offers solutions well in keeping with our state’s regard for civil rights and for the needs of those on or near the economic bottom

Our Governor campaigns always are about solutions and, by election day, so intense. This one already is.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE  as of 1:45 P.M. 07/11/13 : yesterday we learned that State Senator Dan Wolf, founder of Cape Air and representing of the Cape Cod and Islands District, has announced for the Democratic Party’s Governor nomination. More details as we get them.