MASSACHUSETTS VOTERS GIVE Gov. Charlie Baker very high marks in general and for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, but two guests on the CommonWealth Codcast criticized him for failing to think bigger, to take responsibility when things go wrong, and to use his political capital to address some of the more difficult challenges facing the state.
Former state senator Ben Downing and Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi both said that Baker has done a lot of things well, but they nevertheless criticized him on a number of fronts.
Vennochi said she was troubled with the administration’s response to the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and the governor’s refusal to take any personal responsibility for giving final approval to a political appointee to run the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. That hire, according to a report commissioned by Baker, contributed to a breakdown in leadership during the COVID-19 crisis that cost 76 veterans their lives.
“He’s never really owned the process that put that in place,” Vennochi said, adding that the governor has acted similarly when scandals erupted at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the State Police.
“To me that’s the frustrating thing about him because he has so much political capital,” Vennochi said. “With that much political capital, he could just step up and say, ‘You know what, that one’s on me.’ That’s what I’m waiting for.”