Patrick makes nice with journalists from away

Deval Patrick, the nation’s only African American governor, made a predictable trip down legacy lane during the National Association of Black Journalists’ recent convention in Boston.

Patrick celebrated how his administration regained jobs lost in the Great Recession; made significant progress in student achievement; helped stimulate the state’s energy sector; and achieved the highest bond rating in the state’s history. His remarks were generally well-received by people who know better than to get excited about a politician’s applause lines.

 

However, the Massachusetts journalists in the room noticed a distinct shift in the governor’s approach. The remarks, as NECN’s Alison King noted, sounded suspiciously “like a stump speech.”

Patrick boiled down his political essence to few succinct sound bites: “a liberal Democrat from a reliably blue state,” “a black man elected governor twice” in a state where African Americans are a tiny minority, and, most importantly, “a capitalist,” an important descriptor in the current political climate. Republican political consultant Patrick Griffin toldKing that he thought Patrick was “message testing.”  

Patrick, who has made no secret of his impatience with the news media during his eight years in office also had a very specific message for the assembled reporters and other media professionals. Those comments offered up a revealing glimpse of his evolution in his views on journalists:

“This job, as I experienced, is a funny blend of substance and performance art,” he said, “but your job might be even harder, especially if you’re a political reporter, because you have to report on the drama and the substance without confusing the two. We need you to get that right. A functioning democracy needs a well-informed public. And that public needs to be versed in the substance of the politics and not just be entertained by the drama of it.”

Asked after his NABJ address to elaborate on Bay State media had done on the drama versus substance front, Patrick struck a conciliatory tone. “We’ve got a productive working relationship and I hope a respectful one,” he said. Yet the relationship between the natural adversaries still seems to stings a bit. “There are days when I feel like your collective job is to keep me from doing mine,” he said.

From his vantage point, the coverage of complex issues was uneven, and he expressed frustration with the feed-the-beast demands that govern news coverage today. “It’s a 24-hour cycle and you’ve got to produce instantly, you don’t always have the time to digest.” Patrick said.

His remarks were a far cry from the complaints he delivered in a speech to the Massachusetts Newspapers Publishers Association eight years ago. In 2006, the newly-elected governor and political neophyte charged that some reporters “were openly contemptuous” of the enthusiasm his campaign sparked and chided them for missing the reasons why people flocked to his banner. “Put your cynicism down,” he said. “Don’t trivialize optimism and hope.”

Patrick has had little to say about his life after the Corner Office. But with a presidential election on the horizon and hundreds of frequent flyer miles under his belt, clearly he doesn’t intend to spend his days contemplating Berkshire mountain vistas. Especially if he is messaging a roomful of political journalists on the value of substance over performance art.

GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

A former top aide to state Auditor Suzanne Bump plans to file suit against Bump today in federal court, alleging the auditor illegally conducted reelection activities out of her office and cozied up to an influential state employee union during the investigation of the Department of Families and Children. Laura Marlin accuses Bump of violating whistleblower laws and wrongfully forcing her to quit.

Lawmakers are being more cautious about making job recommendations in the wake of the Probation corruption scandal, Masslive reports.

Feds to Mass. on sheltering immigrant kids: Never mind.

The Patriot Ledger and the Brockton Enterprise call on Gov. Deval Patrick to veto the domestic violence bill because of the clause that shields police logs on the incidents from public view.

Governing asks: Why can’t states oversee private contractors effectively?

A Herald editorial calls the Legislature’s recent substance abuse legislation “law-making at its laziest, and sadly par for the course on Beacon Hill.”

The state pension fund enjoys a banner fiscal year.

Former North Shore state rep and state agriculture commissioner Doug Petersen has died at age 66.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Globe editorial says revelations of shoddy management at the Boston Redevelopment Authority are “blots on the legacy” of former mayor Tom Menino.

The Salem Board of Health is considering raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21, the Salem News reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The US government concludes there’s someone new leaking confidential information, CNN reports.

President Obama ’s approval rating hits a new low in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll also finds deep economic unease; a majority of respondents worry that growing income inequality is undermining the idea that the US offers all residents a shot at a better standard of living.

Could Andrew Cuomo’s scandal be even worse than Chris Christie’s?

ELECTIONS

Maura Healey and Warren Tolman, the Democratic candidates for attorney general, squared off in a debate in Brockton Tuesday, fielding questions on issues such as opiate abuse and domestic violence.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democratic candidate for governor, releases her tax returns, the Associated Press reports. A Herald report puts Shirley Grossman’s contribution in support of her son’s gubernatorial run at $100,000. “For a man to be idealistic at his age is wonderful,” Shirley Grossman tells the Herald.

A school committee member in Lynn is asking Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei to take down an online ad that showcases the school committee member criticizing incumbent US Rep. John Tierney for doing nothing to help the city on immigration issues, the Item reports.

Charlie Gallo , who is running for state rep in Lynn, says he opposes a home rule petition to sharply raise the salary of Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and the members of the city council, the Item reports.

The Hillary Clinton pre-campaign campaign swings by Stephen Colbert’s desk.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Market Basket workers defy a return to work order and hold their largest rally yet, the Sun reports.

The Globe reports on the cottage industry that is helping lottery winners avoid taxes, child support payments, and other obligations.

EDUCATION

A former employee in the alumni relations office of Framingham State University is charged with stealing more than $100,000 using a school credit card to fund a cocaine habit.

A new analysis suggests student attrition does not account for the substantial achievement gains seen in KIPP charter schools.

The Atlantic looks at school districts’ move away from in-class iPads, and back toward laptop computers.

HEALTH CARE

A Cambridge biotech company wants the federal government to allow use of its experimental treatment for Ebola virus.

The Japanese co-author of a retracted stem cell research paper is found dead in an apparent suicide.

Officials will begin spraying for mosquitoes in Fairhaven after tests showed EEE present in some samples.

Tipper Gore was right about violent video games.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which is overseeing construction of New Bedford’s South Terminal as a staging area for Cape Wind, has hired a compliance officer in an effort to ease tensions with the city’s minority community over hiring.

The owners of a controversial wind turbine in Scituate say three rounds of testing show the turbine is below state noise regulations despite neighbors’ complaints.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has reached an agreement with the owners of the Fairhaven Shipyard to reduce noise and dust pollution affecting neighbors of the facility.

CRIME/COURTS

The lone holdout for acquittal in a federal jury that deadlocked over the guilt of a Needham doctor and nurse in improperly prescribing opioids says she was bullied by fellow jurors.

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

MEDIA

Ken Doctor analyzes Gannett’s blockbuster moves for the Nieman Journalism Lab.