Winter 2010

Winter 2010

Probation head responds to reports of excessive spending

Some see a haven for patronage

john j. o’brien, the reclusive state commissioner of probation, is coming out of his shell. Faced with two reports suggesting that spending at his agency is excessive, O’Brien is suddenly talking. Well, not talking exactly, but sending out emails and letters through his spokeswoman denying many of the accusations and suggesting that his agency is(...)

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All aboard

Can the new Massachusetts transportation board get things moving?

Sen. Steven Baddour, the co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, was ticked off. The five members of the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors had been invited to appear before a November oversight hearing called by the committee. Only one showed up. The Methuen Democrat made it clear he wasn’t happy.(...)

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Stepping up

Filling Ted Kennedy's shoes isn't going to be easy, so John Kerry is stressing teamwork

When Edward Kennedy died in August, the country lost one of its most able lawmakers, a liberal who could cross the aisle on issues ranging from education to immigration. For Massachusetts, the loss was more visceral. During nearly 47 years in the Senate, Kennedy used his seniority, his family name, and his own persuasive skills(...)

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Entrances and exits

Entrances and exits

Each year, the state’s Department of Public Health releases two thick reports on vital statistics: Massachusetts Births and Massachusetts Deaths. To mark the new year, we’ve culled some of the major data points from the reports for 2007 (reports for 2008 will come out later this spring) and noted comparisons with the latest available data(...)

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The big picture

The big picture

Indiana EMTs get access to medical records, but better care comes with privacy concerns

Indiana paramedic Tom Arkins remembers the days, not too long ago, when he’d be called to an elderly person’s home and find a giant box of medications on the bedside table. If the patient was disoriented or unconscious, as was often the case, Arkins had no way of knowing what the drugs were or what(...)

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Going it alone

Going it alone

According to data released late last year by the US Census Bureau, “nonemployer businesses”—mostly consisting of just one person, working full or part-time— have been on the rise, at least up until the economic crash of 2008. There were 21.7 million such businesses in 2007, and they were especially common in Florida, Texas, the Rocky(...)

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You win, you’re fired

You win, you’re fired

Despite "landmark" pension reform, lucrative perk for those fired from state jobs remains in place

UPDATE: On January 26, the day of our release of CommonWealth’s winter issue, the Patrick administration announced that the governor was filing new pension reform legislation. The governor’s bill, which draws heavily from a report issued last year by a special state commission on pension reform, would eliminate completely the “termination pensions” that are the(...)

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The wild, wild west

The wild, wild west

the Massachusetts GOP is gazing longingly at 1990, the last time that anti-incumbent fever put one of their own — Bill Weld — in the governor’s office. And Charles Baker, favored to win the right to challenge Gov. Deval Patrick and independent Tim Cahill, seems to be emulating Weld’s mix of fiscal conservatism and social(...)

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