Just heard this on the radio. Good. This whole thing has been handled unbelievably badly, and ICE needs to be called on the proverbial carpet to explain why — the Herald has a story today about how it’s even worse than had previously been reported. Kudos to the Governor and to the state’s congressional delegation, all of whom have stood firmly on the side of the kids who were caught in the middle of this wretched business.
From the Governor’s office: First Lady Diane Patrick is being treated for exhaustion and depression. The governor will work a flexible schedule for the next few weeks in order to spend more time with her and his family. The family asks for the prayers and understanding of the public. We also ask respect for the family’s privacy at this difficult time. Our thoughts are with the Patrick family.
Today’s Globe front-pager is an entirely different matter from the Citicall and the drapes. And it suggests that there is something deeply wrong with the State House operation at the Globe. The story reports that Governor Patrick’s administration has hired Paul Buckley, a former District Court Judge, assistant District Attorney, and practicing lawyer, to be commissioner of the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). The DIA is the state’s worker’s compensation agency — among other things, it handles claims from workers who have been injured on the job, oversees the worker’s comp insurance system and the DIA’s dispute resolution process, and manages the Industrial Accident Board, which employes administrative judges who adjudicate worker’s comp claims when the parties have been unable to settle them. Huh, you say to yourself. Dispute resolution, administrative judges, an insurance operation … actually, a former judge, prosecutor, and practicing lawyer sounds like a pretty good fit. Is there really a story here? Yes, according to Andrea Estes, who penned today’s masterpiece. Because, you see, Buckley is married to Senator Marian Walsh, who endorsed Patrick for Governor. Furthermore, if Buckley stays in his new job for three years, he will receive a larger state pension than he [...]
Over the last 10 weeks, Gov. Patrick has displayed mediocre management skills that threaten to undermine his ability to enact and implement critical parts of his policy agenda and his political support throughout the state.
First, Governor Patrick has not organized the staff the Governor’s office in an efficent manner to serve him properly and prevent pseudo-controversies like the Cadillac and the drapes from developing. Moreover, the Governor needs an experienced and trusted politico staff hand to put the breaks on some of his most politically destructive ideas or instincts–i.e., intervening on behalf of his corporate pals at Ameriquest.
The Governor’s office is populated by too many eager, young, and inexperienced professionals who have significant experience running a successful election campaign, but very limited experience or education in state government policy or executive management.
The intervention on behalf of Ameriquest illustrated how Gov. Patrick’s natural instincts “to help a company doing business in Massachusetts” sometimes need to be restrained by an experienced state staff politico who can forthrightly explain to the Governor the horrendous politics and poor public policy judgments underlying an executive decision so ill-considered as the Ameriquest/CitiGroup phone call.
Moreover, the Governor has also failed to harness the intellectual and advocacy capacities of his agency heads, particularly in Health and Human Services, or his top policy advisors to advise him on critical legislative and policy implementation issues such as the state’s new universal coverage health care law.
Stuff like this happens all the time in national, state, and city politics. People get paid back with jobs that help them financially. But there’s a cluster of issues that turn Patrick’s appointment of retired District Judge Paul Buckley into another goof. Here’s the cluster: –Patrick campaigned as an outsider and a populist, not a political wheeler and dealer who repaid his friends with sinecures to bump up their already lucrative pensions. –State Senator Marian Walsh had already attempted to get her husband’s pension boosted through special legislation, making Buckley a marked man. –It also wasn’t that long ago that we were complaining about Mitt Romney trying to secure a position on the Brookline Housing Authority for his aide Eric Fehrstrom, allowing him to qualify him for a state pension. My guess is that Buckley will do fine as a commissioner for the Industrial Accident Board, which oversees worker compensation for the Commonwealth. Jobs such as these are traditionally used as rewards for political supporters. But Patrick has traded in teflon for a suit of velcro, and he can expect this kind of coverage for a long time to come. When District Judge Paul Buckley was forced to retire from [...]
The Boston Globe this morning brings us the remarkable news that State Police Crime Lab director Carl Selavka, realizing he was about to be pushed, decided to jump ship. Jonathan Saltzman’s article contains this scintillating tidbit:
“Reflecting concern about Selavka’s management of the lab, Burke said, Selavka’s contact with the DNA computer database had been severely restricted to make sure that he could not taint the investigations by the State Police or FBI.” (emphasis added)
Is there really concern afoot that we have had an ethically suspect person running the show in a position that can determine whether the state deprives individuals of their liberty? Wow.
Much of the coverage of the recent crime lab problems implies that defense attorneys are going to opportunistically seize on what have been termed “clerical errors” to impugn otherwise solid DNA convictions. But let’s be very clear. DNA is a great tool for law enforcement, but like anything else, it is only as good as the people who are using it. Professor William Thompson at the University of California in Irvine has done extensive research into the pitfalls of this technology. In a Champion Magazine article titled “Tarnish on The Gold Standard: Recent Problems in Forensic DNA Testing”, Thompson documents that errors occur with alarming frequency. He writes:
“One chronic problem that is now being recognized is the uneven quality of forensic DNA laboratories. Laboratories vary greatly in the care with which they validate their methods and the rigor with which they carry them out. Quality control and quality assurance procedures that are followed religiously in some labs are ignored or followed intermittently in others. While there have always been bad labs, their shoddy work has been difficult to detect because the worst labs tend to be found in jurisdictions that have historically shielded crime labs from external scrutiny.”
Via Politicalwire: http://www.stateline… Apparently it was the veto-proof Democratic majorities in the Legislature that put him at the top. Most non-Mass. observers may find it hard to believe that the Legislature will often pose the greatest obstacle to the Governor’s agenda.
Stopped by a federal judge: A federal judge ordered immigration officials yesterday not to move out of state any of the remaining detainees from Tuesday’s raid of a New Bedford sweatshop and to allow them access to lawyers. Judge Richard G. Stearns also instructed the state Department of Social Services and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to work together to solve the problem of detainees who are mothers or primary caregivers and have been separated from their children. He ordered those agencies to give him a progress report by Tuesday. Gov. Patrick is on the job. ICE is still lyin’ its ass off: Eight minors were picked up during the raid. Three of them have been released, but the remaining five were taken to a facility in Miami. The immigration agency was in the process of getting them back to New Bedford, said spokesman Marc Raimondi. “As we have been doing since before the enforcement operation began, we continue to coordinate closely with our federal, state, and local counterparts, including DSS,” Raimondi said. “The fact that DSS has not notified us of a single child in a risky or inappropriate setting. . . . says that the cooperation between [...]
By popular demand, a post devoted specifically to this borderline insane pamphlet (pdf), entitled “Freedom In Peril: Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century,” by the National Rifle Association. The legal arguments surrounding the Second Amendment and the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision are interesting and difficult. I think most can agree, however, that with this pamphlet, the NRA has once and for all careened off the highway of reasoned discourse into the roadside ditch of genuine paranoia. The thing is so far off the wall that, when Wonkette first leaked it, there was initially suspicion that it was a hoax, but the NRA has confirmed that the pamphlet is authentic, though supposedly in “draft form.” As I noted in a previous post, the pamphlet’s text seems fairly standard-issue paranoid right-wing fantasy material. The illustrations, though, go well beyond the ordinary. Here are a couple of samples — you really need to click the link and read the whole thing in context. George Soros, the all-seeing Jewish guy who’s behind the conspiracy to take your guns away. These dudes are gonna git you, sucka, if you don’t have a gun. But it’s not just the Negroes you need to worry [...]
The abandonment of tiny babies and small children in the wake of the New Bedford raid has left me furious, and ashamed that this is done in my name. I live in Oregon; I’m sending the letter below the fold to our governor, Ted Kulongoski, and I’m planning to send adapted versions to our Senators, asking them to find out who in DHS is being held responsible for this disgrace.
This isn’t some subtle political issue. You can’t spin it. If a sentence ends with “… and therefore we’re going to abandon the children”, it doesn’t matter how it began — it’s wrong.