Winter 1997

County Government

He conducts his business in the basement of Berkshire County’s Silvio O. Conte Superior Court House: down the stairs, past the snack machine, and off to the right. Step over the boxes and stacks of papers that line his office floor, spill from half-opened filing cabinets, and encroach upon the voter lists, grocery coupons, newspaper(...)

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Keeping the Nurse in Nursing

Keeping the Nurse in Nursing

Life Support: Three Nurses on the Front LinesBy Suzanne GordonLittle, Brown and Company, Boston, 352 pages. It’s a tough time to be a nurse. My downstairs neighbor, a registered nurse, drags herself home from work most days exhausted and disgusted. As a result of nursing layoffs at her hospital, she cares for eight patients on(...)

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George Apley Lives

George Apley Lives

No equivocation, then. “The land where the gold grasshopper swings above Faneuil Hall to the bidding of a damp east wind,” in other words Boston, has never been decanted more expertly, into any other novel, than the vintage, silky pages of The Late George Apley. It won the 1938 Pulitzer for fiction. It became a(...)

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A Professors Survey

NATICK – If you want information on town meetings in Massachusetts, the logical place to turn is the Massachusetts Moderators Association, the closest thing there is to an organization that keeps tabs on the 303 town-meeting towns in the Commonwealth. But if you want to know about town meetings in Maine, or Rhode Island, or(...)

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Running the Legislature

Rank State Total (in millions) Per Capita Rank Per Capita Year Round 1. New York $178.1 $9.80 5 Yes 2. California $176.2 $5.61 31 Yes 3. Pennsylvania $142.8 $11.85 4 Yes 4. Florida $112.1 $8.04 15 No 5. Michigan $86.7 $9.13 9 Yes 6. Texas $71.0 $3.86 44 No 7. Illinois $59.8 $5.09 33 Yes(...)

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Behind the Revolving Door

In the fourth-floor press room at the State House, there’s no more popular sport than flack-bashing. If reporters harbor a natural mistrust of politicians, it’s nothing compared to their contempt for the press functionaries who run political interference for pols. “Goddamn flack” is a ritual refrain that reverberates around the room, usually following the slam(...)

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With Senate President Tom Birmingham

Thomas Birmingham, in the regal office of the Senate President, says he feels like the proverbial kid who shows up for dessert. He gets to enjoy the delicacies–in this case his tasteful surroundings–without having labored through the main course. Sen. Birmingham has risen quickly in the Senate. He became chairman of the education committee shortly(...)

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Gun Control That Works

Gun Control That Works

About two years ago, David M. Kennedy, a researcher at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, had an idea about the youth violence that was plaguing Boston. He reasoned that the simplest way to stop kids from shooting each other was to get guns out of their hands. That meant figuring out how and why young(...)

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The Trouble with Term Limits

Term limits are a solution that cannot work, to a problem we do not have. Enacted by the voters in 1994, under prodding from the anti-government crowd, the law has yet to make much of a difference in Massachusetts politics. Indeed it will be several years into the next century before the term-limits law will(...)

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Fools on the Hill

Fools on the Hill

“The natural tendency of representative government, as of modern civilisation, is towards collective mediocrity.” – John Stuart Mill, Considerations on Representative Government Or, as a lawmaker down in Texas used to say: If there wasn’t a bunch of dadgummed fools in the Legislature, it wouldn’t be representative government, would it? It’s part of our American(...)

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