Winter 1999

Winter 1999

Cellucci at The Helm

True story: Just after winning the 1990 gubernatorial election, William F. Weld and several aides were bustling through the Lexington, Kentucky airport on their way to a crash course in running a government. And no wonder. Back home, the Massachusetts budget had been wrecked by a brutal combination of overzealous public spending and an underperforming(...)

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Cardinal Law’s Challenge

Has the Cardinal Lost Clout?

It’s not yet 7:30 on a chilly morning in November, and men and women in crisp business attire are filtering into a ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Boston. Cardinal Bernard F. Law has called a “Challenge to Leadership” meeting, an occasion that regularly has power brokers and problem solvers concentrating on the larger(...)

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Faith in Politics

There has been scant commentary in recent months about the bright side, the upside, of the impeachment saga that absorbed Washington and the national media for well more than a year. In the spirit of correcting that, here’s a small silver lining: We have been reminded of who Andrew Johnson was. More to the point,(...)

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Dont Let Race Stop You

In the late 1990s, reading Maggie’s American Dream is an exercise akin to taking a social Rorschach test, with the results revealing readers’ views on a whole range of issues related to race and class in American society, past and present. Indeed, different readers can ascribe radically divergent interpretations to this deceptively simple story of(...)

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Catholic Contributions

Boston Catholics: A History of the Church and Its People By Thomas H. O’Connor Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1998, 357 pages. Does religion constitute an important public resource? Are churches part of a state’s “common wealth?” It depends on the religion, one might respond. O.K., so what about Catholicism, this state’s most important religion? Was–is–the(...)

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What to Do About the Poor

“It’s 1834 in the town of Sturbridge,” announces moderator Jim O’Brien from the podium at the front of the Center Meeting House. Actually, it’s a cool October night in 1998 at Old Sturbridge Village, but the 100 or so town meeting moderators from around Massachusetts are being asked to go back in time and imagine(...)

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A Moderator with Staying Power

When he was 22 years old, John D. Walsh Jr., a genial collector of insurance premiums, was elected town moderator in Pembroke. Since then, at every town meeting for the past 48 years, Mr. Walsh has served as moderator, host, and master of ceremonies. His tenure is unparalleled among members of the Massachusetts Moderators Association,(...)

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The Harshbarger Administration Well Never Know

“We’ll see if he’s going loony left.” – House Speaker Thomas Finneran, Sept. 16, 1998, when asked if he would be endorsing Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, the Democratic candidate for governor. Nov. 3, 1998: Scott Harshbarger is elected governor. Places congratulatory call to newly elected governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, the Reform Party candidate and(...)

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Civic Culture and Good Government

Massachusetts is a state high in civic participation and government performance, according to a measure devised by two academic researchers. Tom W. Rice of Iowa State University and Alexander F. Sumberg of the University of Vermont have come up with a “civic culture index” that ranks Massachusetts as the second most civic state in the(...)

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Will Massachusetts Have Clean Elections

Events of 1998 proved that Massachusetts voters do not agree with their elected officials on the role of money in politics. A proposed “Clean Elections” law calling for public financing of candidates was rejected last year by the Legislature. House Speaker Thomas Finneran said it would be a “frivolous” use of taxpayer money to fund(...)

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