CommonWealth magazine releases Winter 2009 issue

The new issue of CommonWealth magazine is out, with timely and thought-provoking articles on the Democratic Party’s political monopoly in Massachusetts, the mortgage foreclosure crisis hitting some of the state’s poorest communities, and an emerging power play for control of the state’s correctional system.

“Ending The One-Party State,” the cover story of CommonWealth’s Winter issue, asks whether we can have a real democracy in Massachusetts without giving voters a choice at the ballot box. In the November election, Massachusetts had the lowest percentage of contested legislative seats in the country. Minnesota, by contrast, offered voters a choice in every single legislative race. Associate editor Alison Lobron traveled to Minnesota to find out what we could learn from the Gopher State. In separate columns, former Republican Gov. Jane Swift and Democrat Warren Tolman debate what the GOP needs to do to make itself relevant again.

In “Broken Homes,” executive editor Michael Jonas traces the origins of the mortgage foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts and finds struggling urban communities paying the heaviest price in an economic meltdown caused by reckless lending. Washington reporter Shawn Zeller comes at the issue from a different direction, sorting out the blame game in the nation’s capital.

“The Maverick” tells how Gov. Deval Patrick is trying to consolidate control over the state’s corrections system by bringing the county sheriffs into the state’s fold. One sheriff, Bristol County’s Thomas Hodgson, isn’t going down without a fight.

“What Works,” by Gabrielle Gurley, finds that a growing number of states are so concerned about the financial planning skills of their young people that they are requiring them to pass a financial literacy course in order to graduate from high school.

The new issue also has plenty of provocative commentary and analysis. Dan Kennedy looks at the Christian Science Monitor’s reinvention as a largely online publication, Douglas S. Brown says all hospitals should be using “preflight checklists” to avoid mistakes, and Bruce Mohl, in the Conversation, sits down with Dr. Allan Goroll to discuss his prescription for the state’s shortage of primary care doctors.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Bruce Mohl