Spring 2011

Spring 2011

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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Spring 2011 Correspondence

Utilities are the rats Regarding your article “The Meter is Running” (Winter ’11), the only rats hiding under the rocks are the electric utility companies who refuse to buy meaningful amounts of clean, renewable energy and the regulatory agencies who won’t require them to do so. Business as usual is simply not acceptable with our(...)

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Fish fight

Fish fight

The Massachusetts congressional delegation is usually in sync with environmentalists, but not on fishing limits

massachusetts democrats are close allies of the environmental community, routinely receiving top scores on environmental scorecards and leading the charge on major environmental legislation in Washington. But don’t tell that to Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston, or Tom Lalley, oceans communications director of the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington.(...)

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Plan violates separation of powers provisions

Plan violates separation of powers provisions

The touted savings are overstated, and the plan conflicts with constitutional separation of powers principles

the committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) board and management staff have no quarrel, and in fact are in agreement, with the overall point made by Secretary  Gonzalez. Read the argument here. We feel that legal services to the indigent, required by law to be provided by CPCS, should be supplied in the most efficient and(...)

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Public sector pay: reasonable or excessive?

Public sector pay: reasonable or excessive?

gov. scott walker’s victory in curbing collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin public sector workers casts a spotlight on the issue of disparities between public and private sector compensation. The same issue—whether public sector workers are getting overly generous pay and benefits—is simmering here in Massa­chusetts, particularly with the state facing huge budget challenges this year.(...)

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