FOR REFORM FROM BOTH DIRECTIONS : CHARLIE BAKER & MAURA HEALEY

Baker and Local 26

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^ top : Charlie baker with leaders of Local 26 Hotel and Hospitality Workers Union

(bottom) Maura Healey with Charlestown State Rep Dan Ryan and (behind him) Chris Remmes, who was a Ryan opponent in the recent special St rep election

A few days ago i made up my mind whom I wanted to be our state’s net Attorney General. I chose Maura Healey. I had already chosen Charlie Baker to be our next Governor; so I put stickers for both on my car’s bumper, and I posted a picture of my Baker/Healey “ticket.”

To me, Healey and Baker were, respectively, the best candidates, of those on offer, for the offices at issue, and at that time I thought no further.

Tonight, however, after journo-ing Maura Healey’s meet and greet event at the Ironside Grille in Charlestown — more about this event later — I realized that there is a far more profound purpose than I had realized, in selecting Baker and Healey rather than any of their rivals.

That purpose is reform. “Reform from both directions,” i call it.

Baker brings a radical change vision to state administration, changes he is well gifted to accomplish and which are sorely needed : vastly improved data management; transparency; user-friendly online access, coherence, and hugely more effective dollar deployment. Waste, incompetence, obscurity, DCF failure, shady managerial hires (remember Sheila Burgess ?), health care connector collapse, legislative confusion : you name it, state administration during the past four years has fallen from grace.

Baker passes all the prerequisite policy tests — of women’s health rights, marriage equality, transgender rights, support for fair wages, even an ability to work with the state’s major private sector unions. On these scores, he supports what most voters in Massachusetts support. Thus putting him in charge of reforming state administration does not, at the same time, risk losing our progressive momentum on the issues.

At the same time, Baker, politically, cannot do things that Maura Healey can; just as Healey cannot, as attorney general, undertake reforms that Baker as governor can. Healey as attorney general can use the power of law enforcement and oversight to advance women’s rights, the rights of small people against the big banks and bureaucratic systems, the rights of transgender people, matters of public safety and gun regulation. She talks about these tasks all the time, and does so with passion and in detail.

Healey has the voice of a stump speech reformer; Baker has it too. The culture of Beacon Hill badly needs to hear both of these voices.

Yes, she and he are, otherwise very different. One is a Democrat, the other a Republican. One is managerial, the other a crusader. They complement one another marvelously.

Together, they have the power, and will have sufficient public attention, to force Speaker DeLeo to listen. DeLeo, like many Speakers before him, has used his complete control of the House to pass only the legislation that he wants, in the shape that he wants it, and to see off legislation that he does not want — even bills offered by the (Democratic) Governor have gone nowhere without DeLeo aboard. Martha Coakley, as attorney general, has made no moves — none that i am aware of — to use the force of office to bolster any of Governor Patrick’s initiatives. I suspect that Maura Healey will not be so shy; and on matters where she and Baker can agree, I suspect that their joint efforts will force Speaker DeLeo to change his priorities more than once.

In Charlestown tonight, in the neighborhood where she lives (and, indeed, was given her first job, so she told us) Healey showed her strength on the ground. The event was hosted by Chris Remmes, a classic city progressive who ran for State Representative in a special election this year and drew only about 550 votes. But midway through the event, the man who defeated him, State Representative Dan Ryan, showed up, as did quite a number of Ryan’s Teamster supporters. When Healey began her speech, the Ironside was packed, close to 100 people.

This of itself was news; unions form the base of support for Healey’s primary opponent, Warren Tolman. It was pointed out to me that Teamsters Local 25 supports Healey’s current boss, Martha Coakley, for Governor. Fair enough; but support for one doesn’t require support for the other. Perhaps the Teamsters Local 25 leadership has recognized that the guarantee of unionism’s newly improved political power in Massachusetts is to ally, at ;least in the Attorney General race, with the state’s progressives and reformers.

In that, i think the Teamster leadership has it right. There is, for a smart union, no further advantage in remaining faithful to old arrangements. The smart union is the one that sees the new coalition forming and moves to join it. This the Teamsters of Local 25 hae now done in the matter of Maura Healey versus Warren Tolman.

By making that choice, the Teamsters — and, so it seems, Dan Ryan — have probably assured that Maura Healey will win the hotly contested primary that she is in and will thereafter fairly easily beat her November opponent, a skilled lawyer to be sure but, politically, of unsympathetic instincts and scant imagination.

I wish the Teamsters would also choose Baker and not Coakley. Baker’s mentor, Bill Weld, enjoyed widespread union support when he was Governor, and for good and tangible reasons. The same can be true of a Baker administration, and he is making moves to demonstrate that to major unions in the state. The reforms of state administration which he voices are no less significant to labor than to anyone else, because all of us suffer from state incompetence.

If Baker can pass the issues tests — as Healey has done in her own way — he can bring other smart unions, if not this time the Teamsters, to his side, as she has.

Were that to happen, there’ll be a very, very different state leadership than we have seen these past eight years. All to the good.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

MAGOV14 : JULIETTE KAYYEM GOES ON THE ATTACK

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Arlington, MA, May 10, 2014 — Speaking a la stump to about 100 supporters at Arlington Town hall today, Juliette Kayyem spoke loudly of plans, not promises. Eager to distinguish herself from Martha Coakley, and to override Steve Grossman — the two perceived front runners –she exclaimed, in a finger-pointing voice, “nobody DESERVES to be governor ! We can’t just nominate the next in line, this is no time for caution, we have to be bold !”

“We’ve been cautious before,’ she scolded, “and what did it get us ? from 1990 to 2006 we lost every governor election to Republicans, who mostly ran this state into the ground !”

So much for being the first state to enact universal health care (Mitt Romney), the first Massachusetts governor to embrace gay rights (Bill Weld) and to begin the huge clean-up of our state’s rivers and harbors (Weld again). So much for Paul Cellucci and the huge paydays that the “Big Dig” gave to thousands of union construction workers. So much yet again for Bill Weld, re-elected in 1994 by the largest vote margin ever accorded a governor seeking another term.

But if Massachusetts Republicans thought it was they who Kayyem’s “J’accuse” speech had most in mind, they had it wrong. No Republican, not even Charlie Baker, was attacked by Kayyem as fiercely, or in detail,. as Martha Coakley. said Kayyem, “I sat next to Martha Coakley at a Forum and listened as she ducked the question of sex education in early school. ‘mmm, that’s hard,’ Martha said. Well, it isn’t hard ! Not when teen pregnancies are rising, especially in Western Massachusetts !”
Which, of course, is Coakley’s home area.

Kayyem was far from finished. At length she detailed Coakley blocking Governor Patrick’s gun control plans and delaying his moves for CORI reform. And having thus reminded everyone of Coakley’s “caution,” as she called it — I have a less kindly impression of her — Kayyem attached the “caution’ sign to Steve Grossman, whom she dubbed the kind “Beacon Hill insiders who we Democrats nominated and lost every time.” Which he is.

Kayyem was well justified in pointing out the insider and cautious nature of Coakley’s and Grossman’s candidacies and to contrast them with Deval Patrick’s outsider status, as she called it. Massachusetts voters at least since Bill Weld’s election have made very clear their unreadiness to elect Beacon Hill politicians governor, their insistence on governors un-compromised by legislative deals and big-contract administration.

The bold hopeful then delivered “plans, not promises” — a swipe, perhaps, at Don Berwick, who has promised almost everything, and with whose appeal to progressives Kayyem seemed determined to compete. Kayyem detailed plans for criminal justice reform education improvement, increased funding for social services, and — her signature — “better data management,” which she said means updating the entire state government’s technology, interface and transparency.

Of which proposal she claimed, “I am the only candidate to say this !”

It was an impressive speech, a campaign kick-off affair, by a candidate who has worked hard to become as convincing a political voice as she is a policy researcher. “This is not a time for caution ! We must be bold,” she insisted, over and over again…

Will it work ? Will Kayyem’s version of Bold succeed in gaining her a large enough following to challenge the Caution Twins ? It might. But I have doubts it’ll do much more than that. Here’s why :

1.Kayyem is not as clearly outside as she wants voters to see. She’s had a long career as a top-level policy advisor to one president and to Governor Patrick and advised the Bush administration on interrogation issues. The typical — the most credible — Massachusetts outsider candidate for governor comes from the world of business : Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker both, or from the “Governor GOP” party, whose entire existence is a kind of good-government watchdog agency, — and Massachusetts has many venerable.

2.Kayyem seemed at recent Forums to have accepted that she cannot be the candidate of the Democratic party’s progressives — that Don Berwick owns that role; and that her candidacy stood for realistic management and progress “for right now,’ as she retorted at one Forum to a Don Berwick flight of policy fancy. But her Arlington stump speech embraced the progressive agenda — and the label. I doubt it will change progressive minds.

3.Instead of excoriating Massachusetts’s recent GOP governors, she should have said something like this : “We Democrats have allowed the Republicans of our state to be more progressive, or more effective, than us. We nominated flawed insiders, next-in-line candidates, cautious conservatives, and they lost.

“Look at what Weld, Cellucci, and Romney did after beating us ! Their reforms should have been ours.

“We need to be practical reformers just as they were and, if possible, to do reform even better. Governor Patrick has been a great reformer, but we can do better than even he has done, on many many fronts. Because — believe me when I tell you — if we don’t do it, Charlie Baker will !”

THAT would have been bold. It would also have been the truth.

An insider can fib or fake the facts and get away with it. An outsider cannot. Especially when there’s an even stronger outsider waiting in the wings to see whom he will face in November.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere