Charlie Baker’s compassionate conservativism

Somewhere between the classic Republican world view summed up by his new budget chief (in 140 characters or less), who said the state’s problem is that we’re “overregulated and not biz friendly,” and the spoonfuls of sweet potatoes he dropped onto plates yesterday at the Boston Rescue Mission, Charlie Baker will have to fashion actual policies and an approach to governing.

In crafting a winning message in this year’s race for governor, Baker jettisoned the harsh tone — and substance — of his 2010 run. No more talk of aggressively slashing taxes or throwing thousands of state workers overboard. Instead, he offered a fairly vanilla program, anchored by his pledge to bring jobs and great schools to every community across the Commonwealth.

 

And he offered a decidedly human side to a guy known for his budget and management chops.

He cried when recalling the tough plight of a  bear of a fisherman he met (in the 2010 campaign, it turns out). He has practically embedded himself in minority neighborhoods where Republican sightings are newsworthy occurrences. And yesterday he was shoulder to shoulder with son-of-a-washerwoman Ray Flynn, serving dinners to some of the 500 homeless or low-income Bostonians who came for an early Thanksgiving meal at the Boston Rescue Mission in the South End.

Baker hasn’t used the term “compassionate conservative.” That may be because he’s tried to avoid most any sort of ideological label, or it could be because the term is most identified with George W. Bush, whose trailer few are looking to hitch themselves to these days. But compassionate conservativism is nonetheless what Baker has been selling, the idea of state government that is both fiscally disciplined and caring.

While Baker has been working overtime to showcase the caring part of the equation, the fiscal discipline part will now start to come in focus with his selection of Kristen Lepore as his secretary of administration and finance, the state’s top budget post and a job Baker himself held in the 1990s. Lepore, a vice president at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s major business advocacy organization, has held a variety of public sector jobs, including deputy chief of staff to Gov. Paul Cellucci.

If judged by her most recent stint at AIM, she’ll bring a business community mindset to the job, which means keeping taxes and state spending low, regulations to a minimum, and letting the engine of private enterprise take things from there. That’s a different ethos than the one Baker was projecting in the serving line at the Boston Rescue Mission.

Ahead lie tough choices, which will test Baker’s ability to straddle the divide between the two . And with a sudden budget shortfall coming as the post-election November surprise, the hard decisions will come sooner than he was no doubt expecting.

MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Gov.-elect Charlie Baker names Kristen Lepore, vice president of government affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, as his secretary of administration and finance, State House News reports.

Keller@Large has a one-on-one with Lt. Governor-elect Karyn Polito, who proclaims she and Baker are “ready to roll up our sleeves and divide the work.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera fires the city’s elections coordinator after voting irregularities discovered, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Charles Chieppo, writing for Governing, says the lack of transparency concerning Boston’s Olympics bid is troubling.

The Chelsea Housing Authority is suing to try to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars from the agencies former executive director, who is now serving three years in jail on corruption charges.

Cape Cod officials are devising a safety plan for Route 6 which is prone to an uptick in accidents during the summer

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

America’s neglected infrastructure is falling apart, 60 Minutes reports.

A Jamaica Plain pastor is among those in Ferguson, Missouri, conducting training in nonviolent protest methods in anticipation of a decision from the grand jury that is considering charges against the police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August.

ELECTIONS

State Rep. Rhonda Nyman of Hanover conceded nearly three weeks after the election to GOP challenger David DeCoste as a recount was underway that added three more votes to DeCoste’s total.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting finds that as more and more cities and towns turn their tax liens over to for-profit debt collectors, some people are becoming homeless because of the aggressive collection actions.

More than 7 million people are working part-time jobs but would like full-time work.

Tech leaders say they were hoping for more from President Obama in his big immigration policy move to secure entry for the high-skills workers they say their industry is desperately short on.

EDUCATION

Lynn school officials urge the state to deny a request by the KIPP charter school to expand, saying the charter and public schools will be competing for space for new schools at the same time, the Item reports.

Gov. Deval Patrick this morning will announce the development of a new college campus in downtown Brockton, a collaboration between University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Massasoit Community College, and Bridgewater State University.

HEALTH CARE

With Steward Health Care planning to shut down Quincy Medical Center, officials in Methuen and Haverhill, where other Steward hospitals are located, are getting nervous, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Solar and wind power are nearing — or even going below — price parity, the point at which their costs match those of fossil fuel energy sources, making renewable energy not only good for the environment but for also for the bottom line.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter, who announced last year he would not run for attorney general because he needed to focus on the upcoming Aaron Hernandez trial, says the case does not present a problem in his run in the Fall River recall election where he is vying to replace Mayor Will Flanagan.

MEDIA

News flash: There’s a double standard for men and women in television news and Beat the Press uses the case of an Australian anchor who wore the same suit every day for a year with no one noticing to prove the point.