Spring 2011

Spring 2011

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The next great thing

The next great thing

despite the economic woes in the country, investment in research and development continues to expand in all public, private, and nonprofit sectors, according to federal statistics. Nowhere is that impact felt greater than in Massa­chu­setts, where more money is spent on business research and development than in any other state in the country except California,(...)

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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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