Spring 2011

Spring 2011

Piloting global payments

Piloting global payments

The new prix fixe system for health care reimbursement is getting a try-out in Lowell, but key details are still murky

Gerri Vaughan, the executive director of the Lowell General Physicians Hospital Organization, answers a question about the state’s rush to em­brace a global payment system with a question. “If Pat the patient comes, how do we deal with Pat?” she asks. Dr. David Pickul, seated across from Vaughan in a conference room at Lowell General,(...)

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Endless loop

Nearly a year ago Attorney General Martha Coakley proposed new regulations to protect auto insurance consumers, but she’s never pulled the trigger and implemented them. Coakley solicited feedback on her proposal last summer and since then has kept extending the deadline for comments for several months at a time. The current deadline is April 15.(...)

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Reigning supreme

Reigning supreme

Clerk-magistrates, with lifetime tenure and no mandatory retirement age, rule the roost in Massachusetts courthouses.

Ronald Arruda is the clerk-magistrate of the Bristol Juvenile Court, which is a little like saying he is the king of his court. He was appointed to the job by former Gov. Edward  King in 1982 and, while six governors have come and gone since then, Arruda hasn’t budged. The 66-year-old clerk-magistrate can keep earning(...)

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Boston NAACP moves to recapture relevance

Boston NAACP moves to recapture relevance

The NAACP’s Boston branch all but dropped out of sight in recent years, but new president Michael Curry is looking to erase doubts about the all-volunteer organization’s relevancy by stepping up its advocacy for civil rights in education and the workplace. Since moving into the top slot earlier this year, the 42-year-old Curry has focused(...)

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Labor’s love lost

Labor’s love lost

How public sector unions became the bête noire of uneasy times

When it comes to rising anger toward public sector unions, Wisconsin’s hard-charging Republican governor, Scott Walker, has taken the battle to a new—and caustic —level. But think of Barry Bluestone as the canary in the coal mine. Nearly two years ago, Bluestone penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe warning of a growing backlash against(...)

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No easy patronage cure

No easy patronage cure

Some say Civil Service is the way to rid government of patronage hiring. But is the cure worse than the disease?

the massachusetts trial Court’s policies and procedures manual says all hiring is to be based strictly on merit. No practice or appearance of nepotism or favoritism is allowed. Yet for almost a decade the state’s Probation Department did just the opposite. The hiring process was rigged top to bottom to employ job candidates recommended by(...)

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History lessons

History lessons

Jill Lepore says the Tea Party movement has embraced an approach to American history that is more rooted in religious fundamentalism than in any serious examination of the past.

jill lepore, of all people, ought to be celebrating the fascination Americans have with the country’s Revolutionary War era. After all, Lepore specializes in early American history at Harvard, where she has been on the faculty since 2003. Lepore is heartened by interest in the nation’s early history. But she is less taken with the(...)

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Lawrence on the mat

Lawrence on the mat

Under its first Latino mayor, the Merrimack Valley city is struggling to get back on its feet. Between a bad economy, political infighting, and a long history of civic malaise it won't be easy.

lawrence, with an anemic tax base and the state’s highest poverty rate, is no stranger to the usual litany of urban woes facing struggling cities. But Lawrence’s problems suddenly became the state’s problems last year when city found itself teetering on the fiscal brink. With Lawrence sinking under the weight of a $24.5 million budget(...)

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More efficient legal services for the poor

More efficient legal services for the poor

The state can save millions by putting lawyers for the poor on the state payroll, instead of contracting for their services

thanks to a relatively strong economic recovery and our prudent fiscal management during the recession, Massachusetts is in a much better financial position than most other states. Read the response to this article here. Even so, we will be facing our most challenging budget in the upcoming fiscal year. While tax revenues are expected to grow as(...)

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Who does he think he is?

Who does he think he is?

Dan Winslow, a veteran Massachusetts Republican turned freshman state rep, is shaking up the State House with a flurry of policy proposals and a scathing critique of the Beacon Hill status quo.

it’s an early March afternoon and a gaggle of reporters are waiting outside the House chamber. The focus of their interest finally steps out and obliges the group. He and the governor, whatever their differences, both agree on the importance of unions to the public workforce, he says. It shouldn’t have been a remarkable scene.(...)

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