Some friendly advice to Governor-elect Patrick: Ignore everyone trying to give you friendly advice

In a column patronizingly entitled “Some friendly advice for the governor-elect,” Scot Lehigh says he’s “getting a little nervous here.”


Personally, I hope everyone who’s part of the ossified political establishment in this state — and that includes just about everyone who works at the Globe — is really, really nervous by January 4.  I don’t even much care why they’re nervous — some of what Lehigh says (e.g., not enough educational “innovators” on the lists released so far) is fair enough, though some of it (e.g., look what happened to Dukakis) seems silly to me.  But I want them to be nervous.  I want them to feel like anyone’s ox could be gored, including their own.  And I really hope that Deval Patrick, whose political career so far has consisted of shattering every bit of “conventional wisdom” that has been thrown his way, will continue to run the show he wants to run, not the show that the wiseguys think he “needs” to run.

So here’s my “friendly advice” for Deval Patrick: ignore anyone offering you “friendly advice.”  One of Patrick’s amusing stump speech lines, going way back to before the primary, has been something like “and when I’m taking the oath of office, there will still be people out there saying, ‘he can’t win.’”  Most of those people are the ones now piously offering “friendly advice.”  Patrick hasn’t listened to them so far.  I can’t imagine why he’d start now.

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22 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Couldn't agree with you more...

    Scot Lehigh has been "a little nervous" about Deval Patrick since long before the Primary Election.

    I hope the Governor-elect continues to ignore conventional wisdom and keeps on doing what he's been doing for the last two years.  I, for one, think it's time for a little "unconventional" wisdom in state government, and that seems to be what Deval Patrick offers.

  2. Ditto to both

    Ditto to both of the above. 

    Never mind the fact that Lehigh's contradictory column bemoans on one hand the prevelance of the "status quo" for education policy on the transition team ...and on the other hand says there are too many people opposed to MCAS and charter schools (the very policies that define the status quo of the last sixteen years of Republican drone-producing education policy).  Which is it Lehigh?

    And his slash at Wayne Burton is a pretty far stretch.  As a North Shore resident, I'm proud at how much Dr. Burton ahs been able to turn our area's community college into such a vibrant and successful higher education institution, despite the out-going Administration's attempts to gut public higher ed funding.  The whole jibe at community colleges for their low graduation rate was shot down when analysts noticed that the reason the graduation rate at CCs is so low is because a majority of the students leaving those schools do so because they are transfering to schools like UMass, not necessarily completing and graduating from the community college they started at.  Good for them.

    • small point

      Um, that's not true.  [Few transfer to 4-year colleges.

      But even when Massachusetts graduation rates were viewed over a six-year time frame, a little more than a third of students finished. Another 3 percent were still enrolled in a college, and more than 60 percent had dropped out or could not be accounted for, according to federal data. The government reviewed the progress of the roughly 12,000 new full-time degree-seeking students from Massachusetts.

      Other states, like Illinois, have made some progress in community college completion rates. 

  3. I have an assignment for you.

    "Personally, I hope everyone who's part of the ossified political establishment in this state -- and that includes just about everyone who works at the Globe -- is really, really nervous by January 4."

    You're kidding, right David? Gee, we have never seen a change in the governor's office before? We have never seen a Democratic governor before.

    David, you need to step back and put things in perspective. No person, and I mean NO PERSON, at the GLOBE gives a rat's ass about Deval in the sense that it could make them 'nervoius'. They are nervous about the Globe's future and their jobs.

    Come back to earth

    This mind set is the first sign of self-destruction. Not Deval's, but the looney left.

    Beware, Karl Rove had/has the evangelicals, who we now know he mocked and did not respect. Deval has the looney left.

    I wOnder what Deval really thinks of his Kool-Aid drinking fan club?

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • $quot;They are nervous about the Globe's future and their jobs.$quot;

      That's kinda my point, Ernie.  You got it.

      • I Don't Think So, David

        You seemed to imply that Globies are nervous about Deval being elected. I would expect a former Supreme Court Clerk to be more clear.

        As for Lehigh mentioning Dukakis 1, that is not silly as you say. it's called experience. 

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • So I am Clear

          Globies are worried about Globe and industry problems having nothing to do with Deval

          eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • $quot;I would expect a former Supreme Court Clerk to be more clear.$quot;

          Why?  We can obfuscate with the best of 'em.

    • assignment


      The fan club will remain just that until re-election time.

  4. Especially when it comes from Lehigh

    Deval needs to flat out ignore advice from Scott Lehigh.  Even better, do the opposite.  Why did we go through the trouble of electing a new governor if we wanted the same old business and think-tank interests involved in the workings of the Department of Education.

    • Hmmmm...Pablo, better match up transition team with the 'same old business and think tank interests'

      You'll hurt Tripp Jones' feelings!

      There is a remarkable amount of confluence.

      • I know, I know

        The K-12 education team will make Scott Lehigh happier than any school committee member in the Commonwealth.  The all-mayors local government team has probably cheesed off every selectman and councillor in the state.

        What were they thinking?

  5. absolutes don't work

    I'm a big fan of Deval's. I like the way he ran his campaign. I liked his reaching out to the folks that had "checked out" and the fact that he resisted the urge to get really ugly in response to Healey's campaign.

    But I think the purity of his campaign has been a bit exaggerated, especially among some here. And he can't run the executive branch the way people think he ran his campaign.

    To steal a bit from the late great Chris Farley: There were "hacks" involved with his campaign. He used some "old school" political "tactics." He "took money" from "establishment types" and ran "phone banks." He ran "negative ads." And when it came to election day, he used some very traditional GOTV methods. (Don't worry, you're not a bad person if you know what GOTV stands for.)

    These things, in an of themselves, are not bad. They are bad only when they overwhelm the idealism and philosphies that are the base of the campaign.

    Lehigh buys into some truths that some of us believe aren't so true. I think the Teacher's Union can be tremendously progressive if they are appreciated and invited to the table and asked to contribute, rather than being demonized every step of the way.

    But Lehigh also understands that while campaigns can be idealistic, governing necessarily includes a bit more practicallity. Deval needs to continue to persuade, but now he's got a tougher audience. Without demonizing them, let us admit that legislators want details about the details. And that's not always a bad thing.

    I wouldn't ask Deval to give up any of his idealism. I wouldn't ask him to cow tow to the established leaders (seen and unseen) on Beacon Hill. But I would hope that he ads some folks that Lehigh compares to Sasso; some folks that know how the government works and can help Deval change it.

    • Does either you or Lehigh

      actually think that Deval Patrick doesn't understand what you're saying?  Of course there's a difference between campaigning and governing.  A big part of why Deval won is that, because of his impressive experience running the Civil Rights division and being a muckety-muck at Coke and Texaco, people actually believe that he can deliver on his vision.  He knows how to get things done.  All's I'm saying is that he doesn't need folks like Lehigh to tell him how.

      On a related note, I do so love the media's incessant refrain about the "rough and tumble of Massachusetts politics."  As though somehow MA politics were so much tougher than politics anywhere else, or than trying to get anything done in the private and nonprofits sectors.  That kind of parochialism is what infects commentary like Lehigh's -- "oh, so you think you know how to get things done? well, you may have been a big success in DC and Atlanta, but this is Boston, pal, and you need some of us who've been around here a long time to show you the ropes" -- and what makes it basically useless.

      • talent, with humility and listening skills

        I think Deval understands it very, very well. And I don't think he's as arrogant about his abilities as some on this site. That's why he's successful. He incorporates both conventional and unconventional wisdom.

        You don't think he has "folks like Lehigh" working with and for him? Doesn't Chacon have experience at that newspaper, covering City Hall and writing columns/editorials? "Folks like Lehigh" is a dangerous way to start categorizing people, by the way. It hints at the same kind of arrogance you accuse the parochialists of having.

        You can't universally dismiss the insight of people who have been around the system as some of the early posts seemed to indicate. Everyone who has worked near or in the system is not a demon. Just as those who are coming from outside the system are not all demons. To be successful in making changes, I think you need a mix.

        That was my point.

        Deval has not been an elected executive of a state government. Sure there are things that transfer from his experience at Texaco, Coke and the Civil Rights Division. But if you don't recognize there are differences that require the advice of experienced hands, you are being naïve.

        Deval's campaign was successful. And it did some things differently. But to think it was the start of a glorious revolution might be a reach, at least at this point.

        That talent, with humility and listening skills was a reference to Deval, not me, by the way. I admit to none of those three attributes.

      • Lehigh

        "oh, so you think you know how to get things done? well, you may have been a big success in DC and Atlanta, but this is Boston, pal, and you need some of us who've been around here a long time to show you the ropes".

        There your getting it. Patrick is smart enough to know how he has to play.  My guess is that will cause some dissappointment say oh in about 6-8 months at this site.  When he provides all these "wonderful" ideas here an office on the 3rd floor of the state house then the advice here will have credibility.

        There's an old saying that you never want the guy or girl who has all the answers (read blogs) to be involved making laws.

  6. Lehigh Touts Trimarco As a Model--Huh?

    In addition to the many red flags already pointed out in Lehigh's fork-tongued "friendly advice," consider the model of an effective bureaucrat he holds up: A & F Secretary Tom Trimarco. Huh? Trimarco was a Malone hack from way back, and was too close for comfort to the scandals that rocked the former Treasurer's office. He has been the Mittster's bully boy, good at rubbing out those incurring His Expediency's displeasure, and a great fan of secrecy in the workings of government. A close buddy of Bobby Travaglini and Joe DeNucci, he epitomizes "politics as usual" to an extent that exposes the fraud of Romney's ruse as an outsider. Trimarco is exactly the kind of guy we don't need in government, but he will remain on the Turnpike Authority Board, where he will undoubtedly see his role as sticking it to the new administration. I couldn't agree with David more--beware of hacks bearing gifts.

    • Trimarco

      "A close buddy of Bobby Travaglini and Joe DeNucci"

      and exactly what is wrong with that?  Oh and it makes more sense to ignore the likes of Trav and DeNucci?  I'm an R and vote for DeNucci every time.  He runs a solid org.  Patrick could learn from the likes of DeNucci and dare I say here Galvin.

  7. Hate to say I told you so

    On May 18, 2005, Scott Lehigh exchanged e-mails about a column he wrote:

    LOSSES CAN teach valuable lessons -- but only if the losers are inclined to learn them.

    Rhetoric hasn't yet been translated into actual plans in the governor's race. But when it comes to whether the Democratic posture should be one of pragmatic moderation or unfettered liberalism, a distinct divide was apparent at the state party's Saturday convention.

    Taking the stage in the Paul Tsongas Arena, Attorney General Thomas Reilly, the early gubernatorial front-runner, sounded like the former senator. If the Democrats hope to reclaim the Corner Office in 2006, he said, they must convince voters that they know what it takes to ''grow an economy, attract business, and create jobs." Clearly focused on an audience outside the hall, Reilly stressed that the party can't just preach to the faithful but must persuade independents. ''We have to convince families who feel squeezed from every direction that we will not waste their tax dollars," he added, paying at least lip service to the notion that public spending must be carefully weighed against what people can do with their own money.

    That message, however, drew only a tepid response from delegates.

    They reacted more enthusiastically to political newcomer Deval Patrick, who courted them with what he labeled ''the politics of hope," but which seemed more like unreconstructed liberalism in thin disguise. For example, though Patrick called for universal healthcare -- ''When somebody tells you we can't have both . . . quality health care and universal health care, say, yes we can' " -- afterward he essentially conceded he hasn't figured out how to pay for it.


    In 1998, Scott Harshbarger was too independent to please the party regulars, while in 2002, Shannon O'Brien was too much the Beacon Hill regular to prove persuasive to independents. In all of those contests, the idea that a Republican chief executive would provide a check on the Democratic Legislature's spending propensities was a valuable electoral asset for the GOP. So there's a lesson in those elections for Democrats. Whether they choose to learn it is quite another matter.

    To which I responded in an e-mail:

    Point taken but...In terms of salving the soul of a faithful liberal after a series of stinging defeats, nothing felt better to the larger constituency than the wish-fulfillment platform that was thought up. And yes, you're right, fiscal responsibility and job growth are extremely important, and they're on the platform. But they are a little further down on the list. I was at a platform committee meeting and I suggested they be moved up a little bit. But where do you put them? Before helping working families?

    And also, consider this - people don't get fired up for elections by giving them a rah-rah speech about fiscal responsibility. They get fired up over social issues. And that's the whole point of the convention - energize the base, and get recruitment up. What else could possibly be the point of three hours of speeches and absolutely no substantive debate over the platform itself? Get people excited, get them involved, and get them to get others to the polls. After that, the fight against the Republicans can be won. Just look at the numbers. Four years of poor business climates under Romney, 14% cut in education funding between 2001-2004, and a series of unfulfilled promises, and increasingly frightening changes to distribution of federal health care funds under Romney. History be damned, this next election is ours to lose.

    To which he responded:

    History be damned? I've heard that before.

    To which I would now like to respond:

    Do you like apples?

  8. Scot has an agenda...

    other than peddling the typical columnist tripe.  Standardized testing (MCAS for now) and charter schools.  A candidate or politician can walk on water in every other area of public policy but if he ain't head-over-heals in love with MCAS and charter schools Scot will flunk him.  It's too bad because he's well connected on Beacon Hill, asks the best questions of the scoopies up there and usually analyzes candidate positions (if he can stay away from education for a column) well.  Yet, he's got this blindspot for MCAS and charter schools that makes him sound like a broken record. I agree with his comments about Duke.  While a bit light, his portrayal was pretty accurate of the two administrations.  I should also say that I have a tough time arguing against his positions on MCAS and to a lesser degree charter schools (the funding formula is still a mess but capable of succeeding which I wasn't convinced of a few years ago) but his litmus test of a politician's potential based on campaign and pre-transition statements about charter schools and graduation requirements is unfair and a disservice to the readers. Of course that Trimarco comparison may push me over the edge.  Trimarco has been terrifically underwhelming.  Can he hobnob with the self-appointed, Beacon Hill privileged class?  Sure, but he hasn't been good for Massachusetts or or his boss over the past several months. 

  9. Friendly reminder to the Gov.-elect...

    Lehigh is one of the most cynical people at the Globe, and one of the "wise men" who thought you didn't have a prayer of winning the election.

    He bores me.

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