Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Charlie Baker: You can do better than this! An open letter to the Republican candidate for Governor

Dear Charlie,
Thanks for your recent letter, sent by The Baker Committee to my home. But, Charlie, how could you let this missive go out over your name? You’re better than that!

Was it done by a robo-writer? Every cliché in the book! “restore integrity” “demand accountability” “restore confidence in state government” “cut government spending” “streamline government” “the future of Massachusetts is at stake” Every line except “The future lies ahead!”
Plus, in decrying the “scandals that have become commonplace on Beacon Hill,” you seem to be running against the legislature. You mention House Speaker after House Speaker indicted on felony charges, a State Senator arrested for accepting bribes, another State Senator caught giving the wrong name to police officers.” All true. All correct to deplore. But what do they have to do with Deval Patrick?

You call, and rightly so, for the balance that comes from two-party government, but we had 16 years of Republican governors, and most of those scandals happened under their administrations. And why would you wed yourself to Bill Weld and his legacy?
After he dealt with the deficits of the early ‘90’s, he looked at government as a joke, consoled himself with amber liquid for having to deal with “the walruses,” as he called them, and looked for ways to get out of Dodge. Charlie, you’re no Bill Weld. You’re much better.

Look, Charlie. You seem to have done a good job as Human Services Secretary, making cuts reasonably humanely during the huge budget crisis of the early ‘90’s. You also learned the nuts and bolts of government as Administration and Finance Secretary from ’94-‘98. You’ve served in local government. And, albeit with state help, you led an important turnaround at Harvard Pilgrim. You have the background to be able to tell us specifically how you’re going to fulfill the promises implied by all those clichés in your campaign literature.

Globe columnist Scot Lehigh says you’ve offered some interesting ideas. You have been substantive at least on pensions and health reform. Why not build on that? It’s not too early in the campaign. We’ve had it up to here with sloganeering.

You faulted the Patrick administration for increasing the sales tax and say it should be rolled back. How about some specifics on how you’d do that? What would you cut? The Governor says that, in face of yet another revenue gap, he’d sustain local aid and education at current levels. You agree that cutting local aid should be off limits, but, if so, what would you cut to balance the budget? As an old Human Services secretary, how deeply would you cut services to the homeless, to the developmentally disabled, to job training.

You have the brains and the background to make the campaign against Deval Patrick one of substance and specifics. Please spare us the drivel of campaign material like this one. Show us what you’re really made of!

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