The blandness of Bay State politics

For years here in Massachusetts, we prided ourselves on putting the fun in dysfunctional government. Recall the days of “Toga!, Toga!” chants during all-night budget debates, the one-day coup of Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy in 1990, the succession of indicted House speakers, and, of course, the Governor’s Council.

But many of those highlights are in the rear view mirror, even if we still don’t have a budget several days into the new fiscal year, and no one quite knows what’s going on with legal marijuana despite the Legislature giving itself six months to work out a deal between the House and Senate.

One of the biggest differences between then and now is there are actually thoughtful people with a recognition of consequences at the helm steering the ship of state government. We don’t have a fiscal year budget but there’s not panic because there was enough foresight to pass a one-month budget to keep things running. There’s no compromise marijuana bill but there is a law on the books anyway to guide people in their use of the once-banned weed.

Now compare that to New Jersey, where lame duck Gov. Chris Christie looked simply lame for shutting down the state’s nonessential services in a budget impasse, then frolicking on a closed state beach with his family while a photographer flew overhead snapping in-focus but bad optic pictures. Christie took a page out of President Trump’s playbook and pointed the finger at the media for inciting the wrath of the rabble rather than owning up to the misjudgment of closing down seaside escapes at the start of a hot and sunny July 4th holiday weekend that only close Christie family members could enjoy.

“Run for governor, and you can have a residence there,” was Christie’s tone-deaf response when asked whether it was fair for him to hang out in the state-owned governor’s seaside mansion while regular taxpayers had no such option. Although on the upside, the episode gave the internet some pretty good Christie memes.

But wiser counsel apparently took hold with Christie because less than 24 hours after the shots seen ‘round the world, he reached an agreement with Democrats and beaches reopened on the holiday itself.

To our north, Maine Gov. Paul LePage refused to negotiate with the Democratic speaker of the House, who claimed the combustible LePage exhibited “aggressive behavior” in one round of talks and refused to meet with him alone. LePage refused to walk across the street to meet with legislative leaders. And we thought the relationship between Deval Patrick and the Legislature here was tense.

And then there’s Christie’s mentor-tormentor Trump. After lighting up MSNBC anchors Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on Twitter last week, it probably would have made sense for Trump to either ratchet back the heat or even offer some semblance of apology. Fat chance. Not only did he blow them up further, he offered a stunning, doctored video from a 10-year-old appearance of his on WWF that was refigured to show him wrestling with a “CNN”-head nemesis.

“My use of social media is not Presidential — it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” the modern day president tweeted, though many would have left out the second part of the statement.

But in true “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts” mode, we can take some solace that modern day grown-ups are governing here.

“We may not be happy with its tardiness (or even with the eventual finished product) but at least the parties negotiating it aren’t giving their constituents the proverbial middle finger,” as the Boston Herald observed in an editorial.

Oh, sure, many may not like the backroom, top-down legislating of House Speaker Robert DeLeo or the embrace of taxes by Senate President Stan Rosenberg to patch the growing state budget gap, but those are about policy and process, not personality. And whatever the differences, they work well with the even-keeled stewardship of Gov. Charlie Baker, whose idea of wild behavior is getting his head shaved for charity.

“All this makes Massachusetts’ current budget conflagration look like a controlled burn tended by a particularly well-mannered firefighter,” the Boston Globe’s Nestor Ramos wrote after taking stock of everywhere else.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

The Globe reported yesterday on the slew of former Beacon Hill pols and other connected political types who have landed high-paying jobs at the financially troubled University of Massachusetts Boston. Adrian Walker piles on with a column today decrying the hires — and he gets some support for that view from what might seem an unlikely voice: UMass president Marty Meehan. (Boston Globe)

The prospect of a millionaire’s tax didn’t prevent Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward from signing a roughly $30 million-a-year contract with the Boston Celtics. If the constitutional amendment is approved by voters next fall, it will cost Hayward an extra $1.16 million a year in taxes. (Sports Illustrated) Tanner Ainge, the son of Celtics GM Danny Ainge, had raised the issue in a tweet. (Boston.com)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Cambridge officials have been out front in saying we should welcome refugees to the US, but none of them are settling in the liberal haven because it’s too costly to live there. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

James Aloisi explains why he didn’t fly his flag on the Fourth of July. (CommonWealth)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has rocketed to national fame based on domestic policy issues, is starting to establish herself on foreign affairs as one of the newer members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Boston Globe)

Short of war, President Trump’s options to respond to North Korea’s test launch of an intercontinental missile are limited, experts say. (New York Times)

Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon is pushing a tax hike for wealthy Americans to help pay for a cut for middle-income wage earners. (U.S. News & World Report)

US Rep. Seth Moulton is making a mark, but Joan Vennochi says the cause he is behind remains unclear. (Boston Globe)

With 40 percent of customers late in paying their water bills, Philadelphia starts setting rates based on income. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Herald columnist Jaclyn Cashman questions whether Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren spokesman Kevin Franck is serving his client well with his Trump-like scorched earth approach to the media.

Globe columnist Shirley Leung slams her paper’s coverage of its own recent poll of Boston voters for not reporting on results among Asian-Americans.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Worcester officials urge the Pawtucket Red Sox to make the move to central Massachusetts. (Telegram & Gazette)

Frank Anzalotti, the executive director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association, says the tactics of Total Wine & More add up to “total war” on the state’s liquor regulations. (CommonWealth)

University of North Carolina psychology professor Keith Payne says that as the rich get richer it exacerbates the feeling of others that they are falling farther behind. (Boston Globe)

Housing, a small hotel, and a restaurant are on tap for Dorchester’s Port Norfolk neighborhood, according to plans filed by a developer with the Boston Planning & Development Agency. (Boston Herald)

EDUCATION

Laura Douglas, a native of Northampton and former provost of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, has officially taken over as the fourth president of Bristol Community College in Fall River. (Herald News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Michael Wagner, the president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center, says the hospital can’t give its nurses a bigger raise because it isn’t paid enough by insurers. (CommonWealth)

The New Republic’s Brian Beutler decries the shrinking media coverage of the Republican health care bill.

Before performing at the Boston Pops July 4 concert, Andy Grammer appeared at a concert in Salem, New Hampshire, at a benefit for a 14-year-old boy recovering from a rare form of cancer. (Eagle-Tribune)

TRANSPORTATION

A taxi barreled into a group of cab drivers waiting for rides at Logan Airport, leaving 10 injured. (Associated Press)

The MBTA put its $140 million, commuter rail WiFi project on a 30-day hold after complaints from abutters in Andover and Manchester-by-the-Sea. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State officials confirmed the first detection of West Nile virus in mosquitoes this year from a sample taken in the western Massachusetts town of Richmond. (MetroWest Daily News)

CASINOS

Falmouth police said Mashpee Wampanoag chairman Cedric Cromwell and two other men were asked to leave the annual powwow by tribal elders after a verbal altercation in which another man said his life was threatened. (Cape Cod Times)

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approves nearly $372,000 for training programs for workers at the MGM casino in Springfield. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Three people were shot and wounded outside a birthday party in Boston’s South End on Monday night; police say they’re looking for a “person of interest.” (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Mike Barnicle tweets, incorrectly, that Pete Frates, the man behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, died. (MassLive)

The Reddit user who created the Trump-CNN boxing meme tweeted by the president apologizes. (CNN) Here’s his tweet apology.

The 20th Annual Muzzle Awards, compiled by media critic Dan Kennedy and attorney Harvey Silverglate citing egregious assaults on free speech and expression, are handed out to recipients ranging from internet giant Google to a community newspaper in New Hampshire. (WGBH)

 

  • Mhmjjj2012

    As a follow-up on Maine, the Portland Press Herald reports the new budget has “a $162 million increase in public education funds…one of the largest infusions to public schools in state history.” What’s going on in Massachusetts where an almost two year old report says the state is underfunding K-12 public education?

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Too bad no one nominated CommonWealth for the Annual Muzzle Award. After all, CommonWealth muzzles an informed debate on public education funding by not writing about the 2015 report released by the Foundation Budget Review Commission. Massachusetts is not meeting its funding obligation to local public schools. The Foundation Budget…the mechanism distributing state aid to local public schools…needs fixing and full funding. Had I known the Annual Muzzle Award was accepting nominations then I would have submitted CommonWealth for consideration.