For Patrick, a kick on the way out

Today’s Boston Globe story on the unveiling of Deval Patrick‘s official gubernatorial portrait is headlined, “A last hurrah for governor.” Yesterday’s front-page takeout on his eight years in office offered up more of a Bronx cheer.

A day of hagiographic plaudits from former aides and supporters who had speaking roles at the State House portrait ceremony began on what was surely a sour note as far as Patrick loyalists are concerned. A 4,000-word front-pageGlobe takeout on Patrick’s legacy characterized his eight years in office as a period of “history and headwinds.” But it was heavy on the headwinds.

The piece, by State House reporter Michael Levenson, suggested Patrick would leave behind a mixed legacy, marked by notable achievements but also a “highhanded and tone deaf” style that held him back from mastering the politics of Beacon Hill or managing the complexities of the sprawling set of state offices he oversaw.

It was largely familiar themes that were aired. The drapes, the call to Ameriquest, the Cadillac, and other early missteps. A key role in the battle over same-sex marriage rights. A push for casinos that alienated many in his liberal base. But if there was an overarching message to the piece it was Patrick never quite got it when it came to the ways of Beacon Hill. A cast of willing players, led by his one-time economic development chief Dan O’Connell, offered variations on that theme.

Of the governor’s dealings with legislators, O’Connell says Patrick “never got comfortable with those relationships.” He went on to say Patrick pushed ahead with his support for casinos despite strong reservations expressed several key cabinet secretaries. And he suggested Patrick’s commitment to the casino cause, which angered many progressives, might have been boosted by having watched his late mother enjoy playing slots at Foxwoods.

Outgoing Senate President Therese Murray suggests Patrick blindsided legislative leaders with his 2013 call for a $1.9 billion tax package to fund transportation and education initiatives. Patrick calls that “urban legend,” saying there was plenty of briefing of legislative leaders, but he waves off any further comment.

Rep. David Linksy called Patrick “absolutely phenomenal in terms of the broad themes” — before unsheathing a razor-sharp shiv. “The failings were in the nitty-gritty of running the state,” he said. “The problem has been the basic administration of government.” Oh. That’s all?

A string have serious management failings at important state agencies seriously hobbled Patrick’s second term, and have overshadowed some of his accomplishments.

And the piece hit on some uncomfortable truths for Patrick and his backers. Casinos will be, literally, one of the most tangible legacies of his tenure. Yet the governor did not even list casinos in his interview with the Globe as among his top achievements, and went to great lengths to minimize their impact, calling it a “very modest entry into the expansion of gaming.” Given the state’s OK to three casinos and slots parlor, it’s hard to imagine what a robust entry would look like.

But some other big initiatives that Patrick can claim credit for — most notably two big pieces of energy legislation that have put the state in a leading role nationally in the move toward a cleaner energy future — got little or no attention in the piece. There will be a lasting legacy from these legislative achievements as well, and they seemed to merit more than the passing reference made to energy policy in the story.

Eight years ago, Patrick chided a meeting of regional newspaper publishers and editors, saying their reporters were too cynical or skeptical to grasp the uplifting message of his campaign. If there was any truth in that, it’s equally true that Patrick never seemed to fully absorb the give and take of State House politics, including developing an accessible relationship with the press and an openness to criticism and learning from it.

While Patrick partisans may have felt stung by yesterday’s story, the outgoing governor himself presumably was not bothered by it. In a Saturday Globe story focused on his wife, Diane, Patrick offered a remarkable admission that serves as a fitting bookend to his speech eight years ago to newspaper publishers. “She reads every bit of every story,” he said of his wife’s attention to coverage of them. “I don’t read anything, certainly not about me, and I don’t watch anything about me.”

–MICHAEL JONAS 

BEACON HILL

Outgoing Senate President Therese Murray says her next career move will be a non-profit venture firm to promote high tech start-ups in Massachusetts.

Ronald Walker , Gov.-elect Charlie Baker‘s pick for secretary of labor and workforce development, left a quite a mess at the Roxbury Comprehensive Health Center, whose board he chaired just before it folded, reports the Globe‘s Stephanie Ebbert. Ironically, his business managed to bill the nonprofit hundreds of thousands of dollars for board development and strategic planning.

State officials steer all the money in an “education pothole fund” to an Essex regional school district, the Salem News reports.

Attorney General-elect Maura Healey identifies opiate addiction as her top priority.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Boston Municipal Research Bureau says the city should hold off on a small cost-of-living increase being sought by municipal retirees until the city pension fund is in better shape.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Berkshire Eagle hails late former senator Edward Brooke and New York’s former governor, Mario Cuomo. Jim Aloisi also offered a remembrance of Brooke today for CommonWealth. Brooke’s New York Times obituary is here.

The Atlantic sees Colorado‘s legalization of marijuana as a case study in the limits of federalism.

The New York Times previews the Republican congressional agenda. Health care and energy legislation top the to-do list.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani asks the US to reconsider its decision to withdraw.

ELECTIONS

Nonprofit organizations should disclose their campaign donors, a state task force recommends, the Eagle-Tribunereports.

David Weigel goes inside the evangelical effort to pull Mike Huckabee into the Republican presidential chase.

The Wall Street Journal sizes up Hillary Clinton‘s presence in Iowa.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The online donation processor Network for Good says end-of-year charitable donations were up 13 percent over last year.

EDUCATION

Some Brockton parents and advocates have formed a coalition to look into allegations that students of color are disciplined more harshly in city schools than their white classmates.

A new $182 million science center gives UMass Boston a shot in the arm.

Many states are relaxing their home schooling regulations, the New York Times reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Legislative attacks on state renewable energy standards have never been successful, but Republicans in Kansas and other states are planning to try again, Governing reports.

The owner of Pilgrim power plant has told state and local officials it will move spent fuel cells at the Plymouth nuclear facility into dry casks to make more room in the spent fuel pool and conduct refueling operations.

A 16-year legal battle over Rexhame Beach in Marshfield has ended in victory for the town with the state Land Court ruling the beach is publicly owned, not private as a group of residents had claimed.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Jury selection begins today in the trial of accused Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The state Supreme Judicial Court will hear the cases of two police officers from Hanover and Randolph who claim they were unfairly passed over for promotion despite receiving the top scores on exams.

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.

MEDIA

Longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, who was as cool as the other side of the pillow, died of cancer over the weekend at the age of 49.