This morning’s depressing news round-up

Wow.  No shortage of depressing, infuriating, and otherwise unhappy news stories in today’s papers.  Let’s get to ‘em.

  • Charley has already noted the bombshell of the day: Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi’s sister’s $60,000 no-work State House job.  I’ll join in Charley’s physical reaction to this kind of thing, and refer you to his post for the details.
  • The furor over the Gov’s decision to name Senator Marian Walsh to a high-priced — and long-vacant — deputy directorship at the Mass. Health and Education Facilities Authority (HEFA) continues to mount.  This one is more symbolic than real, since the job itself is not state-funded.  Nonetheless, the symbolism is terrible, and especially in times like these, symbolism matters.  I did love this line from Adrian Walker’s column:
    It is no secret that Walsh has been trying to bail out of the Senate ever since her bid to become its president was rebuffed. Somehow, actually leaving government doesn’t seem to have ever occurred to her.

    Seems exactly right.  It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

  • Over at the Turnpike Authority, somehow they can’t manage to lay off a single toll-taker, while at the same time they apparently (HT Old Scratch) desperately needed two new high-priced staffers.  Words fail me.
  • None of this will be dealt with today, since it’s Evacuation Day, one of MA’s treasured hack holidays on which everyone in Massachusetts goes to work — except folks in the State House.
  • Meanwhile, on the national scene, AIG’s bonuses continue to enrage anyone with a shred of sense in their heads.  Today’s Globe editorial echoes my call over the weekend to cancel the bonuses and let the recipients sue for them.  It’s also starting to look like some sort of managed bankruptcy might be the best solution for AIG, which increasingly seems like a bottomless pit of woe and misery that can be fixed only by starting over.  (That might also permit recovery of the bonuses via a preference action or other special bankruptcy technique.)

    And to Larry Summers, who appears to remain a tad clueless about the whole thing:

    “We are a country of law. There are contracts. The government cannot just abrogate contracts.”

    Repeat after me, Larry: Yes We Can.

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Discuss

57 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Quick point re: Marian Walsh

    OK, the job was vacant for 12 years. That means the Legislature had 12 chances to eliminate the job. Since they didn't, doesn't that constitute at least tacit approval of a governor filling it at some point?

    I'm just reacting to the pile-on over this (the meta-pile-on, not the BMG one). If the job is legitimate, and she is a legitimate candidate for it (she seems to be), what is the big deal? So she supported the governor; lots of relatively new state employees did.

    • Re being a $quot;legitimate candidate,$quot;

      here's Walker:

      Walsh, unlike [current director Benson] Caswell, has no experience in the bond business. Her qualifications, supposedly, are that she chaired the taxation and banking committees in the Senate. To be fair, she has been an effective and occasionally brave lawmaker. But, like most politicians, this would-be reformer has, in fact, never run anything. The closest she has come is an administrative job in the Suffolk district attorney's office, years ago. She wouldn't be a finalist in a real search.

      Patrick administration officials stress that HEFA is self-funded, and that her years there will not boost her state pension. That doesn't change the fact that she is being handed a $99,000 raise for a job lots of other people are probably more qualified to do.

      The job looks for all the world like a thank-you gift from the Governor.  Not a good or smart way to do business.

      • $quot;Never run anything$quot;

        I find that a bit spurious. No legislator has ever run anything, including Ted Kennedy.

        Caswell aside -- never heard of him -- my guess is that people with "experience in the bond business" would consider $99K crap money. Bond traders, in particular, are well paid and rather arrogant.

        To be clear, I'm not cheering over the governor's move here. But the hubbub is a bit puzzling to me. Walsh is a career public servant, taking a public service job. Presumably, her political skills count.

        Goldman's role is a bit icky, by the way.

  2. Surprised? I'm not

    Can't help but chuckle at David's Claude-Raines epiphany.

    What? Patronage hires like Carol Aloisi and Marian Walsh? Union work rules making MTA layoffs slow if not impossible?  $170 billion of completely opaque TARP funds to AIG squandered and all Obama can do is bitch about 1/1000 of that amount in bonuses?

    I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that gambling is going on in this establishment.  (Your winnings, sir.)

    The solution to government incompetence, gluttony, and public sector avarice is ... less government.  Perhaps I'm cynical, but incompetence, gluttony, and avarice is what politics does well if unintentionally.

    This is why "government reform" is a non sequitur.

    • Wrong.

      "Less government" is a meaningless Norquistism.  That's been tried.  Didn't work out too well.  The solution is "better government."  And yeah, we've got a long way to go, here and elsewhere.

      Mindless Bush/Reaganisms will not solve any of the problems this state or this country is facing.

      • $quot;less government$quot; => Bernie Madoff

        'nuff said.

        • No

          Bernie Madoff was handed to the SEC on a platter. If there was only one person employed at the SEC that should have been enough.  The guy was running an investment business and hadn't done a trade in 20 years!!!

          If not corruption then Madoff was a function of quality, not quantity. And frankly unless government can figure out a way to hire and motivate good people, more people won't make a difference.

        • Check your facts, friend

          People tried to hand Madoff to the SEC, but the SEC basically was too busy with other things . . . like prolonging the Sirius/XM merger.  If anything, Madoff is a prime example of the government not having Clue #1.  It's probably the last example you want to use to make your argument.

          • okay,

            Enron. Blackwater. Citi. Bank of America. Wachovia. The list goes on and on. There isn't a corporation that exists in America where any random dude couldn't walk in and find hundreds of dollars in savings, perhaps thousands. Humans are not perfect, whether they work in the public or private sector. We're all living in glass houses -- let's not throw all the stones at government.  

            • The difference is, however

              That one can choose not to be a customer of a private company.  One cannot choose NOT to be a "customer" of government, i.e., the public sector.

              • Really?

                I can choose not to use any private company, since all of them waste or price gouge, etc?

                What do you do when the hacks in private industry mingle with government? You act as if they're different people. They're really not. The financial implosion our country is seeing really just proves the point.

                Again, government isn't the problem. People are the problem. It's just much more difficult to talk about reforming people than it is government, not the least of which is because it may be impossible. We're the same today as we were 2,000 years ago, we just have better technology.  

                • Yes

                  You can choose not to use a private company.  You use that company's competitor(s) instead, or you opt not to make use of the service provided by the private company.

                  This rocket science.

                  • that competitor is also wasteful and gouging

                    Since the hacks in private industry are the same as or in league with the hacks in public, it's very rare in which there's competitors in this country which are noticeable different. For example, cell phone packages are generally similar (and more expensive than in other countries), movie ticket prices are similar (and more expensive than in other countries), prescription drugs cost about the same whether its at Walgreens or CVS (though they cost much less in every other country), cable/internet/phone packages are similar (though they cost much less - and are much better in other countries).

                    There's a lot of choice, but not a lot to choose from. A great deal of that is because there's not such a huge difference in our country between the private and public sector, since for so many of the elites in this country, it's really just a revolving door, at least in all practicality. Your problem is not government, it's human nature. Other countries have dealt with these problems much, much better than the USA - making sure that the middle and working classes don't get screwed. But in America, that's usually the policy goal...

                    • Ever the defender of the poor, put upon government worker

                      Of course Evacuation Day is a hack holiday, purely designed to produce another day off for all of the cousins and inlaws on the govt payroll, while poking a sharp stick in the eye of the Brahmins who live near the statehouse.

                      While I admire the ingenuity of whomever came up with the excuse (British evacuation of Boston) for this hack day off, the persistence of this product of an ancient, obsolete tribalism is yet another instance of a government that is in need of some rather serious reform.

                    • my point

                      isn't that it's not a hack holiday, it's that we have many others and they actually do serve a real and somewhat appropriate role. If it wasn't evacuation day, it would be some other. If the problem is that State Street doesn't get it off too, take it up with them... If there's one thing true about the American worker, it's that he or she doesn't get enough time off. It would be beyond lame and anti-progressive to take away one of the few days some are able to get because others can't. As far as I'm concerned, we should be working to get more days off for people, not less. Not only do we need it as humans, but it actually makes us more productive people.  

                    • Just don't be surprised, then

                      When people struggle to make a living, and see the govt guys get these silly days off, on top of their 4 weeks a year, plus sick and personal time, all of which they can accumulate and get paid in a lump for when they retire 25 years before anyone else, and use to bump up the perpetual payments on their defined benefit pension, and conclude that government is corrupt, and that taxation is, in essence, legalized theft by the agents of the govt employee unions, for the benefit of those unions.

                      Which is another way of saying: reform, then revenue.

                    • Perhaps you have a tenuous grasp on economics

                      At best.  The private sector thrives on competition.  One of the best ways to beat a competitor that is "wasteful and gouging" is to not be "wasteful and gouging" yourself.  And if you are, another company will come along into the market that's not as "wasteful and gouging."

                      Yeah, there evolves certain price levels and expectations for given products and services over time, but so what?  The price of gas, also, is largely the same at one gas station as it is at another.  To compete, therefore, companies have to offer better service to their customers, or other product lines, or other reasons for their customers to do business with them vice the competition.  That's why, for example, you'll see many gas stations offer geedunk stores as well as gas---that's where the differentiation and the extra service lies.

                      If a private sector company can't hack it in the real world, it goes out of business (at least before last year) because its competitors force it out of business.  The incentive, therefore, is to get better, because if you don't, economics will go to work:  the most efficient allocation of scarce resources with throw you out of business.  All this gets thrown out of the window when you consider the "public" sector, because if a government can't hack it in the real world, it doesn't go out of business.  It has no competitors.  It has no incentive to get better.

                      You seem to be a public employee with a chip on your shoulder.  Your personal feelings, however, don't negate the fundamental differences between the private and public sectors.

                    • I got an A in macroeconomics, thank you very much

                      class average a C-.

                      I get it. It's just that things don't always work the way they're supposed to. The influence these companies have on government far too often puts them on the same team. Citi and Bank of America haven't been in very much competition lately, have they? In practice, we're a little too fascist and not quite enough capitalistic because of that revolving door phenomenon. The same Bush and Obama people that have been making bad decisions on the financial stuff come from the financial industry. It's the same idiots ruining our economy from both sides. I wish Obama would have made a clean break from them, but alas, that's how strong the foothold is for the financial 'gurus' who are some of the most powerful and effective lobbyists in government.

                      BTW: I am not, nor have I ever been, a public employee. I just happen to think they do valuable jobs and have been smeared far too often by people like you as being less-than the private sector, even though there's as much or even more waste that goes on in Corporate America, they just gouge and collude enough that it doesn't matter much and, when they lose anyway, they have friends in government to help bail them out, few strings attached.  

                    • Wait wait wait

                      You mean when business and government are joined too tightly at the hip, bad things happen?

                      Wow!  Who would have thunk this?

                      (only the legions of people in this country who don't call themselves liberals/progressives/etc.)

                      You progressives are an interesting bunch.  You bitch about situation Y, but then you advocate for the exact political situation that brings about situation Y in spades.

                  • Little or no choice

                    You can choose not to use a private company.  You use that company's competitor(s) instead, or you opt not to make use of the service provided by the private company.

                    I personally think that telephone companies that pay their CEOs more than $300,000 are being wasteful by doing so. I'd like to choose a company that doesn't waste money this way.

                    Whoops. No choice there.

                    I personally think that any oil company that spends tens, maybe hundreds of millions in lobbying is wasting money -- I'd like to choose a company that doesn't waste money this way.

                    Whoops. No choice there.

                    I personally think that an auto manufacturer that spends tons of money on private jets for their executives wastes money. I'd like to choose a company that doesn't waste money this way.

                    Whoops. No choice there.

                    And you know the bigger difference? I have virtually no say in the matter because I have no vote. The only influence I have is in proportion to the money I spend with such corporation.

                    In other words, in a democracy, every person has an equal vote. In a corporatocracy, the people with the most money wield the most power.

                    A corporatocracy doesn't seem to be in the spirit of this country, does it?  

                    • If you can't find a

                      telephone company, oil company, or auto manufacturer that meets your requirements for operating as a business---whatever those requirements are---you're perfectly free to forgo telephone service, oil purchases, and automobile purchases.  And to say you have no say in the matter is incorrect:  by not spending your money with companies you don't like, you affect the way they do business, assuming you feel the same way and act the same way as other customers . . . when companies lose customers, they change the way they do business.  

                      Of course, you also have to consider that perhaps your demands for these companies are unrealistic or untenable.

                      I'm no big fan of megacorporations, either.  I worked for one for the past five years . . . a certain large, private financial institution with its roots in Massachusetts that shall go "unnamed" for now.  I found the internal workings of that organization, ironically, much like the internal workings of government:  no real incentive to innovate, no real motivation to serve customers better, etc.  It was all about protecting one's own little fiefdom, doing the littlest necessary to "earn" bonuses, etc.  Absolutely soul-sucking.

                      The problem is that when any organization gets too large, this sort of dynamic takes hold.  Doesn't matter if it's the public or private sector.

                    • Stop the games

                      You're right in saying that you can't not patronize the government. But you can't avoid the effect of most government services either.

                      That is why you are posing a false choice -- sure, there are a lot of cranks who claim that they don't want to have to pay for the schools because they don't have any kids in them, but those people cannot eliminate the benefit of an educated populace from their lives. There is just no way to do it.

                      That is the reason we have a government instead of lots of private companies -- because there are certain services whose costs cannot be precisely allocated, and there are other services which should be provided (environmental cleanup, for example) but no private person would pay for.

                      We never seem to debate those issues though. Conservatives have learned not to get into details because when people hear of the details, the choice isn't so clear. Everyone wants "lower property taxes", but not enough people want to close libraries, stop paving the streets, put more kids into a classroom, etc.

                      So in effect, conservatives are trying to debate through deception. They know that when offered the choice between "lower taxes" and "same or higher taxes", people will choose the former. Then when government can't provide the same level of services on level funded or reduced budgets, they point their fingers and scream "Look! government is ineffective! Cut their revenues even more!"

                      That's a game that needs to stop.

                    • The only one playing $quot;games$quot; around here, friend

                      is you, and the game seems to be arguing scattershot fashion like a destroyer issuing forth chaff to confuse a guided missile.  Not gonna happen.

                      We have a government to ensure the basic rights of individuals and to serve as a court of last resort, i.e., an arbiter, of disputes between parties with legal standing, etc.  Government does NOT exist to be an alternate provider, of sorts, of services that couldn't theoretically be provided by the private sector.  Pretty much every service government provides could be provided by the private sector; it's just a matter of standing, tradition, and practicality, among other things, that they're provided by the government instead.

                      Want an educated population?  Private schools can educate the public just as good as public schools can---in most instances, they do so better.  If they didn't, or people didn't think they did, they'd go out of business.  Environmental clean-up?  Scores of private companies provide this service in the Commonwealth---my brother-in-law's firm among them.  If there was no call to perform this service, my brother-in-law's firm would be out of business.  

                      Pretty simple.

                      And you're the one offering a false choice around here, not me.  Conservatives by and large aren't offering the people a choice between "lower taxes" and the "same or higher taxes."  They're trying to help people---and you head-in-the-sand progressives---understand that the government can only confiscate so much from the taxpayer before the taxpayer is bled dry.  We're approaching that point.  And when we approach that point, there's only so much we can do to make it better, and that involves reducing the amount of services provided by the government to a bare minimum.  Much like a household is forced, in tough economic times, to choose between buying groceries and HBO.  Seems like a no-brainer choice when you put it that way, but in terms of government services, you progressives are hell-bent on insisting there's no reasonable, logical way to differentiate "groceries" and "HBO."  And every time we conservatives bring it up, you resort to the fire/cop/teacher mantra, just like you anti-revoke-the-income-tax people did during the last campaign season.  NO sh*t, Sherlock, those are the groceries.  Not the HBO.  If you people had your way, you'd have the taxpayers of Massachusetts starving while enjoying episodes of Entourage on television.    

                    • Who pays?

                      I'm sure that private schools can easily provide the same education as public schools. But who would pay for them? Tuitions are between $5k and $30k per year for private schools. Many people can't afford that.

                      And while some clever people might start saving to pay for their kids education as soon as they graduate from college, others will not. That means their children will not attend school. They will not become productive members of society. Of course, the conservative approach to that is "well, I just won't let those people live in my town", right?

                      The same goes for environmental cleanup. Who pays? Who pays for the fact that a company that went out of business long ago happened to dump oil in a field that they used to own? Who pays when a car crashes and gasoline spills into a stream? And who pays to police the companies that say they are doing the right thing? Should they monitor themselves? Should we just "trust them" to do the right thing? That didn't work too well with this recent peanut butter scandal, did it?

                      Your HBO/groceries example is simplistically fictitious. It rarely comes down to that even in a family. It never is as clear as that in government even though you imply that it is. You can't even come up with a single example where it is as easy a choice. You claim that progressives can't differentiate between groceries and HBO -- but you refuse to do so as well. I ask again, give us an example of an unnecessary service that government provides. Can you?

                      From your prior words, it seems like education is one of the things you don't think government should be providing. So go ahead -- run that as your campaign. If the people agree with you, they will rally around you.

                      But conservatives know, deep in their hearts, that enough people aren't going to agree with that decision. That is why they refuse to get specific. They get people to rally around "less taxes" knowing full well that there isn't a lot of HBO in government. Then they sit back in glee and watch the whole thing fall apart, waiting to point fingers so they can rinse and repeat.

                    • Who pays?

                      The customer receiving the goods or services pays.  That's how it usually works, isn't it?

                      Tuition for private schools are comparatively high because they represent a "premium" over the standard product, and people are willing to pay extra for that.  If there were no public schools, and private schools were the only option, theoretically, tuition across the board would be cheaper, as schools competed with each other for students.  

                      You're telling me there are no "HBOs" in the services provided by these MA government agencies?  That each and every agency here provides vital services the citizens cannot do without?

                         *  Abandoned Property    * Administration and Finance, Executive Office for    * Administrative Law Appeals, Division of    * Aeronautics Commission, Massachusetts    * Affirmative Market Program    * Agricultural Resources, Department of    * Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission    * Appeals Court    * Appellate Tax Board    * Apprentice Training, Division of    * Architectural Access Board    * Archives, Massachusetts    * Asian American Commission    * Attorney General    * Audit Operations, Division of    * Auditor, State

                         * Banks, Division of    * Bar Counsel, Office of the    * Bar Examiners, Board of    * Bar Overseers, Board of    * Barnstable County Sheriff's Office    * Bays Program, Massachusetts    * Berkshire County Sheriff's Office    * Berkshire District Attorney    * Berkshire Regional Planning Commission    * Blind, Massachusetts Commission for the    * Board of Bar Examiners    * Board of Bar Overseers    * Board of Building Regulations and Standards    * Board of Higher Education    * Board of Library Commissioners    * Board of Registration in Medicine    * Board of Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals    * Board of Review    * Boston Municipal Court Department    * Boxing Commission    * Bristol County Sheriff's Office    * Bristol District Attorney    * Building Regulations and Standards, Board of    * Bureau of Special Investigations    * Bureau of State Office Buildings    * Business Development Corporation, Massachusetts    * Business Development, Massachusetts Office of    * Business and Labor Bureau    * Business and Technology, Department of

                         * CEDAC    * Cable, Department of Telecommunications and    * Campaign and Political Finance, Office of    * Cape & Islands District Attorney    * Cape Cod Commission, Barnstable County    * Capital Asset Management, Division of    * Care, Department of Early Education and    * Career Services, Division of    * Central Artery Tunnel Project    * Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission    * Chelsea Soldiers Home    * Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the    * Child Advocate, Office of    * Child Support Enforcement Unit    * Children and Families, Department of    * Citizen Information Service    * Civil Service Commission    * Clients Security Board    * Coastal Zone Management    * Commission Against Discrimination, Massachusetts    * Commission for Homeless Services Coordination, Executive    * Commission for the Blind, Massachusetts    * Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Massachusetts    * Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth    * Commission on Judicial Conduct    * Commission on Mental Retardation, Governor's    * Commission on the Status of Women, Massachusetts    * Commission, Asian American    * Commissioner of Probation, Office of the    * Committee for Public Counsel Services    * Commonwealth Corporation    * Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority    * Commonwealth Museum    * Commonwealth, Secretary of the    * Community Development Finance Corporation, Massachusetts    * Community Development, Department of Housing and    * Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation    * Community Services    * Community Services, Division of    * Comptroller, Office of the State    * Conciliation and Arbitration, Board of    * Connector Authority, Commonwealth Health Insurance    * Conservation Services, Division of    * Conservation and Recreation, Department of    * Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, Department of    * Convention Center Authority, Massachusetts    * Corporations Division    * Correction, Department of    * Council on Housing and Homelessness, Interagency    * Court System, Massachusetts    * Court, Trial    * Criminal Bureau    * Criminal History Systems Board    * Cultural Council, Massachusetts

                         * DMV    * Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Massachusetts Commission for the    * Deeds, Registries of    * Deferred Compensation Plan    * Department of Agricultural Resources    * Department of Business Development    * Department of Children and Families    * Department of Conservation and Recreation    * Department of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation    * Department of Correction    * Department of Early Education and Care    * Department of Elementary and Secondary Education    * Department of Energy Resources (DOER)    * Department of Environmental Protection    * Department of Fire Services    * Department of Fish and Game    * Department of Higher Education    * Department of Housing and Community Development    * Department of Industrial Accidents    * Department of Labor    * Department of Mental Health    * Department of Mental Retardation    * Department of Public Health    * Department of Public Safety    * Department of Public Utilities (DPU)    * Department of Revenue    * Department of State Police    * Department of Telecommunications and Cable    * Department of Transitional Assistance    * Department of Workforce Development    * Department of Youth Services    * Development Corporation, Massachusetts Business    * Development Finance Agency, Massachusetts    * Developmental Disabilities Council, Massachusetts    * Disabilities and Community Services, Office for &n bsp;  * Disability, Massachusetts Office on    * Disabled Persons Protection Commission    * Discrimination, Massachusetts Commission Against    * District Attorneys Association, Massachusetts    * District Court Department    * Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Office of    * Division of Administrative Law Appeals    * Division of Apprentice Training    * Division of Audit Operations    * Division of Banks    * Division of Capital Asset Management    * Division of Career Services    * Division of Conservation Services    * Division of Employment and Training (see Division of Unemployment Assistance and Division of Career Services)    * Division of Health Care Finance and Policy    * Division of Information Technology Audit    * Division of Insurance    * Division of Labor Relations    * Division of Local Mandates    * Division of Local Services    * Division of Occupational Safety    * Division of Professional Licensure    * Division of Standards    * Division of State Parks and Recreation    * Division of Unemployment Assistance    * Division of Urban Parks and Recreation    * Division of Water Supply Protection    * Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, Governor's Council to Address    * Dukes County Sheriff's Office

                         * Early Education and Care, Department of    * Economic Development Assistance Corporation, Community    * Economic Development, Executive Office of Housing and    * Education, Executive Office of    * Educational Financing Authority, Massachusetts    * Educational Quality and Accountability, Office of    * Elder Affairs, Executive Office of    * Elections Division    * Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of    * Emergency Finance Board    * Emergency Management Agency, Massachusetts    * Emergency Telecommunications Board, Statewide    * Employee Relations, Office of    * Employment Services, Statewide    * Energy Facilities Siting Board    * Energy Resources (DOER), Department of    * Energy and Environmental Affairs, Executive Office of    * Energy and Environmental Affairs, Office of the Secretary of    * Environmental Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Energy and    * Environmental Law Enforcement, Office of    * Environmental Police, Massachusetts    * Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), Massachusetts    * Environmental Protection, Department of    * Environmental Trust, Massachusetts    * Essex County Sheriff's Department    * Essex District Attorney    * Ethics Commission, State    * Executive Bureau    * Executive Commission for Homeless Services Coordination    * Executive Office for Administration and Finance    * Executive Office of Education    * Executive Office of Elder Affairs    * Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs    * Executive Office of Health and Human Services    * Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development    * Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development    * Executive Office of Public Safety and Security    * Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works    * Executive Office of Veterans' Services    * Export Center, Massachusetts

                         * Fire Marshal, Office of the State    * Fire Services, Department of    * Firefighting Academy    * Fish and Game, Department of    * Franklin County Sheriff's Office    * Franklin Regional Planning Commission

                         * Gay and Lesbian Youth, Commission on    * General Court (Legislature)    * Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS), Office of    * Government Bureau    * Governor's Commission on Mental Retardation    * Governor's Council    * Governor's Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence    * Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee    * Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes    * Governor, Office of the    * Grants and Technical Assistance, Office of    * Group Insurance Commission

                         * Hampden County Sheriff's Department    * Hampden District Attorney    * Hampshire County Sheriff's Office    * Hard of Hearing, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and    * Hate Crimes, Governor's Task Force on    * Hazardous Materials Response Program    * Head Injury Program, Statewide    * Health Care Finance and Policy, Division of    * Health Insurance Connector Authority, Commonwealth    * Health Services, Office of    * Health and Educational Facilities Authority (HEFA), Massachusetts    * Health and Human Services, Executive Office of    * Higher Education, Board of    * Higher Education, Department of    * Highway Department, Massachusetts    * Highway Safety Bureau, Governor's    * Highway Safety Division    * Historical Commission, Massachusetts    * Holyoke, The Soldiers' Home in    * Home Care Assistance Program    * Homeless Services Coordination, Executive Commission for    * Homelessness Commission    * Homelessness, Interagency Council on Housing and    * House of Representatives    * Housing Appeals Committee    * Housing Court Department    * Housing Development    * Housing Development, Division of    * Housing Finance Agency, Massachusetts    * Housing Partnership Fund, Massachusetts    * Housing and Community Development, Department of    * Housing and Economic Development, Executive Office of    * Housing and Homelessness, Interagency Council on    * Human Resources Division    * Human Service Transportation Office

                         * Independent Living Program    * Indian Affairs    * Indian Affairs, Commission on    * Industrial Accidents, Department of    * Information Technology Audit, Division of    * Information Technology Division    * Inspector General    * Insurance, Division of    * Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness    * International Trade and Investment, Massachusetts Office of

                         * Joint Labor Management Committee    * Judicial Conduct, Commission on    * Judicial Nominating Commission    * Jury Commissioner, Office of    * Juvenile Court Department    * Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, Gove rnor's

                         * Labor Relations Commission    * Labor Relations, Division of    * Labor and Workforce Development, Executive Office of    * Labor, Department of    * Land Court Department    * Legal Counsel, Office of the Governor's    * Legislature (General Court)    * Library Commissioners, Board of    * Library of Massachusetts, State    * Local Mandates, Division of    * Local Services, Division of    * Lottery, State

                         * MBTA    * Marshal, Office of the State Fire    * Martha's Vineyard Commission    * Mass.Gov    * MassHealth (Office of Medicaid)    * Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission    * Massachusetts Archives    * Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority    * Massachusetts Bays Program    * Massachusetts Business Development Corporation    * Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination    * Massachusetts Commission for the Blind    * Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing    * Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women    * Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corporation    * Massachusetts Convention Center Authority    * Massachusetts Court System    * Massachusetts Cultural Council    * Massachusetts Development Finance Agency    * Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council    * Massachusetts District Attorneys Association    * Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority    * Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency    * Massachusetts Environmental Police    * Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)    * Massachusetts Environmental Trust    * Massachusetts Export Center    * Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority (HEFA)    * Massachusetts Highway Department    * Massachusetts Historical Commission    * Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing)    * Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund    * Massachusetts National Guard    * Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance    * Massachusetts Office of Business Development    * Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment    * Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism    * Massachusetts Office on Disability    * Massachusetts Port Authority (MassPort)    * Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission    * Massachusetts School Building Authority    * Massachusetts Service Alliance    * Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association    * Massachusetts Small Business Development Center    * Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System    * Massachusetts Technology Collaborative    * Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation    * Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation    * Massachusetts Trade Office    * Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MassPike)    * Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)    * Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board    * Medicaid, Office of (MassHealth)    * Medicine, Board of Registration in    * Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee    * Mental Health, Department of    * Mental Retardation, Department of    * Mental Retardation, Governor's Commission on    * Merit Rating Board    * Merrimack Valley Planning Commission    * Metropolitan Area Planning Council    * Middlesex District Attorney    * Middlesex Sheriff's Office    * Military Division - Massachusetts National Guard    * Minority and Women Business Assistance, State Office of    * Montachusett Regional Planning Commission    * Motor Vehicles, Registry of    * Municipal Development, Division of    * Municipal Police Training Committee    * Museum, Commonwealth

                         * Nantucket County Sheriff's Office    * Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission    * National Guard, Massachusetts    * Natural Resource Damages Assessment and Restoration (NRD)    * Norfolk County Sheriff's Office    * Norfolk District Attorney    * Northern Middlesex Council of Governments    * Northwestern (Franklin & Hampshire) District Attorney

                         * Occupational Safety, Division of    * Office for Disabilities and Community Services    * Office for Refugees and Immigrants    * Office of Campaign and Political Finance    * Office of Children, Youth and Families Services    * Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity    * Office of Educational Quality and Accountability    * Office of Employee Relations    * Office of Environmental Law Enforcement    * Office of Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS)    * Office of Grants and Research    * Office of Grants and Technical Assistance    * Office of Health Services    * Office of Jury Commissioner    * Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship    * Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA)    * Office of the Bar Counsel    * Office of the Chief Medical Examiner    * Office of the Child Advocate    * Office of the Commissioner of Probation    * Office of the Governor    * Office of the Governor's Legal Counsel    * Office of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs    * Office of the Secretary of Public Safety    * Office of the Secretary of Transportation    * Office of the State Comptroller    * Office of the State Fire Marshal    * Old Colony Planning Council    * Operational Services Division

                         * Parks and Recreation, Division of State    * Parks and Recreation, Division of Urban    * Parole Board    * Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (PRIM Board)    * Pioneer Valley Planning Commission    * Plymouth County Sheriff's Department    * Plymouth District Attorney    * Police Training Committee, Municipal    * Police, Department of State    * Port Authority (MassPort), Massachusetts    * Ports of Massachusetts & Seaport Advisory Council    * Probate and Family Court Department    * Probation, Office of the Commissioner of    * Professional Licensure, Division of    * Property, Abandoned    * Public Counsel Services, Committee for    * Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission    * Public Health, Department of    * Public Housing and Rental Assistance br /    * Public Housing and Rental Assistance, Division of    * Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau    * Public Records Division    * Public Safety, Department of    * Public Safety, Executive Office of    * Public Safety, Office of the Secretary of    * Public Utilities (DPU), Department of    * Public Works, Executive Office of Transportation and    * Publications and Regulations, State

                         * RMV    * Racing Commission, State    * Receiver General, Treasurer    * Records Center, State    * Refugees and Immigrants, Office of    * Regional Transit Authorities    * Registration in Medicine, Board of    * Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals, Board of    * Registries of Deeds    * Registry of Motor Vehicles    * Rehabilitation Commission, Massachusetts    * Rental Assistance, Division of Public Housing and    * Retardation, Governor's Commission on Mental    * Retirement Board, Massachusetts Teachers    * Retirement, State Board of    * Revenue, Department of

                         * School Building Authority, Massachusetts    * Seaport Advisory Council    * Secondary Education, Department of Elementary and    * Secretary of Elder Affairs, Office of the    * Secretary of Public Safety, Office of the    * Secretary of Transportation, Office of the    * Secretary of Veterans' Services, Office of the    * Secretary of the Commonwealth    * Securities Division    * Senate    * Service Alliance, Massachusetts    * Sex Offender Registry Board    * Sheriff's Association, Massachusetts    * Sheriff's Department, Essex County    * Sheriff's Department, Hampden County    * Sheriff's Department, Plymouth County    * Sheriff's Department, Suffolk County    * Sheriff's Office, Barnstable County    * Sheriff's Office, Berkshire County    * Sheriff's Office, Bristol County    * Sheriff's Office, Dukes County    * Sheriff's Office, Franklin County    * Sheriff's Office, Hampshire County    * Sheriff's Office, Middlesex    * Sheriff's Office, Nantucket County    * Sheriff's Office, Norfolk County    * Sheriff's Office, Worcester County    * Sheriffs' Association, Massachusetts    * Small Business Development Center, Massachusetts    * Soldiers Home in Holyoke    * Soldiers Home, Chelsea    * Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District    * Standards, Division of    * State 911 Department    * State Auditor    * State Board of Retirement    * State Comptroller, Office of the    * State Ethics Commission    * State Fire Marshal, Office of the    * State House Tours    * State Library of Massachusetts    * State Lottery    * State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance    * State Parks and Recreation, Division of    * State Police, Department of    * State Publications and Regulations    * State Racing Commission    * State Reclamation Board    * State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board    * State Records Center    * State Transportation Library    * State Universities and Colleges    * Statewide Employment Services    * Statewide Head Injury Program    * Suffolk County Sheriff's Department    * Suffolk District Attorney    * Superior Court Department    * Supreme Judicial Court

                         * T    * Task Force on Hate Crimes, Governor's    * Teachers Retirement Board, Massachusetts    * Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA), Office of    * Technology Collaborative, Massachusetts    * Technology Development Corporation, Massachusetts    * Technology Park Corporation, Massachusetts    * Telecommunications and Cable, Department of    * The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke    * Training Committee, Municipal Police    * Transit Authorities, Regional    * Transitional Assistance, Department of    * Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Bay    * Transportation Library, State    * Transportation Office, Human Service    * Transportation and Public Works, Executive Office of    * Travel and Tourism, Massachusetts Office of    * Treasurer and Receiver General    * Trial Court    * Turnpike Authority (MassPike), Massachusetts

                         * Underground Storage Tank Program    * Unemployment Assistance, Division of    * Universities and Colleges, State    * Urban Parks and Recreation, Division of

                         * Veterans' Services, Department of    * Veterans' Services, Executive Office of    * Victim Assistance, Massachusetts Office for

                         * Water Pollution Abatement Trust    * Water Resources Authority (MWRA), Massachusetts    * Water Resources Commission    * Water Supply Protection, Division of    * WebMASSters    * Western and Southeastern Offices    * Wetlands Restoration Program    * Women Business Assistance, State Office of Minority and    * Women, Massachusetts Commission on the Status of    * Worcester County Sheriff's Office    * Worcester District Attorney    * Workers Compensation Advisory Council    * Workers Compensation Litigation Unit    * Workforce Development, Department of    * Workforce Development, Executive Office of Labor and    * Workforce Investment Board, State

                         * Youth Services, Department of

      • Saying the same thing

        David, I'm all for "better government."  Show me some better government and I'll keep an open mind.  As an experiment, though, reform in MA, on which you progressives pin so much hope in Deval, has failed.  Is failing.  Will be failing.

        Can you point out some "better government" because I can't seem to find any.

        In the absence of empirical data showing the supremacy of "better government" over free-markets and capitalism, I'll stick with free-markets.

        Therefore I contend that government should do things involving money that ONLY governments can do ... like building and operating nuclear submarines and MIRV'd Trident IIIs.  Government spends money POLITICALLY.  This is mostly synonymous with UNWISELY.

        If government can't even root out the 20-year-running PONZI schemes, how do you think it will operate our health care system (Medicare?  It stinks) or look at the great job it's done with education whether at the local, state, or federal levels.

        We actually haven't tried "less government," as you wrongly contend. The % GDP collected and spent over the years has religiously hovered around 18/19/20%.  Now we're going to 25%, and soon, 30% or more.

        I don't believe that's a good thing.

    • Less government produced the Crash of 2008

      We need government to help manage this complex society we live in. If we were still back in the Dark Ages using copper and gold coins and paying for our land in corn, you might have a case.

      That doesn't mean hackishness should be permitted.  

      • Please cite some examples of where government has done a better job

        I'm open to good ideas and a better way of doing things.  But I cannot think of any endeavor where a government-run or sponsored program has bested the free-market alternative.

        Can you give me some examples?

        • How's this for a start?

          Making tens of millions of old people not be poor

          Providing health care to tens of millions of elders

          Policing our streets

          Preventing industry from dumping crap in our air and water

          Defeating Hitler and fascism

          Putting astronauts on the moon

          Providing scientific research the market won't do because no one will make enough money off the results

          Taking care of disabled people when their families/parents can't

          Freeing the slaves

          Extending voting rights to people who were denied them for centuries

          Prohibiting child labor

          Inspecting food for disease and wholesomeness

          Enforcing contracts

          I'm getting tired, but you get the idea.

          • Taling care of disabled?

            Yoe're full of excrement right therer. You dems need to stop talking and start building! I spent two months in a nursing home at $356 a day paoid by Medicare, because of a serious lack of affordable/accessible housing. And now shovel-ready projects will bypass ADA? Social Darwinism strikes again!

        • Just visit a country without a fully functioning government

          And you'll see very clearly the importance of this institution.  

  3. Can't manage to lay off a toll taker

    but they haven't filled positions.  Just because heads aren't rolling doesn't mean that they're not cutting staff size.  The question I have is: what is the desired number of employees, or more precisely, what is the desired number of staff working at any given time, accounting for time of day, day of weak, holidays, and seasonality?

    Don't just lay people off.  Figure out the right staffing requirements, and then get there.

    P.S. Are we doing enough to encourage FastLane?  Can we get to the point where there's never more than one cash lane [except holiday weekends, when somehow there are backups miles long because of people paying cash]?

    • FastLane

      As long as you expect people to pay for the privilege of saving the Pike some money, it won't be widely used.  Drop the fee, already.

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • I agree

        and I do think that the Pike ought to work to get more and more folks on FastLane.  It's just crazy not too.  I'd also love to see them figure out how to get the Thanksgiving turkeys to get on FastLane -- the traffic approaching the tolls, made up entirely of non-FastLaners, backed up for miles on Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm sure there were plenty of accidents as a result.  Use some jersey barricades and set up a lane for FastLane only so those with the transponder can skip the queue, thereby encouraging those without a FastLane to sign up for next year.  Heck, I don't even own a car but I've got a FastLane transponder for rentals, borrows, and the like.  Why?  The backups on holidays are killer, and any way to get to Grandmas sooner is worth it.

        The advantage to FastLane is convenience and speed, something people have demonstrated they are willing to pay for.  Still, I'd bet it'd be worth (a) giving the transponders for free, and (b) having a differentiated rate for transponders and non-transponders.  Charge folks who pay cash more, and they'll move over to FastLane.

    • FastLane? Why would you buy into a technology

      that overcharges its users?

      http://www.wbz.com/pages/39237...

  4. Giant loophole

    HEFA is self funding.  It's also a walking talking loophole: non-profits need financing but the interest the non-profits would pay to investors would be taxable to the investor.  

    The Government set up HEFA; the non-profit's debt is issued through the HEFA, or else HEFA takes title to the financed asset then leases it back to the charity, and the interest is converted to tax-free interest to investors.

    Win-win: non-profits get cheap financing; investors get tax-free interest.  What happened to all you loophole closers out there?

    Further, it's really just a dinky little organization.  With $7.1 million in revenue last year, Patrick's appointee just got a job paying 2.5% of its gross revenues!

    I'm just curious how many other political friends and family are employed by HEFA.

  5. Evacuation Day

    I thought it was like Bunker Hill say where all Suffolk County has it off.  Historically, it seemslike as good a day as any to commemorate.

    • Technically, yes; practically, no.

      Yes, it's a "holiday" in Suffolk County.  Have you noticed that businesses are closed in Boston?  Me neither.  But the Suffolk County Sheriff's offices are probably moribund today.  I'd say that makes my point.

      • Plenty of businesses

        are open on Thanksgiving (morning), Independence Day, Labor Day, etc.  What's your point?

        • You're really defending Evacuation Day?

          You think the State House, Boston city hall, and the Suffolk County sheriff's office should get a taxpayer-funded day off on ... Evacuation Day?  

          Feel free to make the case on the merits for that one.

          • sacred cows...

            Is Evacuation Day really any less worthy of a holiday than any one of our other Roman holidays? Fake holidays exist for a reason. If it weren't Evacuation Day, it'd be Flag Day or some other fake holiday. Other parts of the country make up their own fake holidays, too. We all love a day off - and we all need the occasional day off.

            Obviously, not everyone gets those days off, but for those who don't, it's generally because it's a business opportunity. We all know Evacuation Day is just an excuse to get St. Patty's day off - a big thing in the Boston area. A lot of those private businesses that are staying open are going to be making a lot of money because others got the day off. If they weren't going to be making money, they wouldn't stay open. So, on this particular issue on this thread, I don't think your argument is very strong (though most of your other arguments are right on target).

            • $quot;Fake holidays exist for a reason.$quot;

              Why yes they do.  They exist because the people with the power to declare them just happen to be the same people who benefit from them.

              Come on, Ryan.  I'd be astonished to learn of a single business in Suffolk County that's closed because it's "Evacuation Day."  It's a day off for government workers in Suffolk County -- and it's yet another example of the kind of thing that drives ordinary people nuts and gives Howie Carr ammunition.  I'm surprised you're defending it.

              • we should be working for people to get more time off,

                not less. My progressive priorities are in order.

                The problem here isn't evacuation day, it's that the American worker is unique in the developed world for the time they're forced to work compared to the time they can take off. Do I prefer time off be had in fake holidays? Of course not, but I don't see anyone legislating that all full time workers get at least 4 paid weeks off a year, either.  

              • We don't need them

                Confession: I benefit from Evacuation Day being a holiday, and I also benefit from Bunker Hill Day being a holiday. I still think they are bogus and should be eliminated as holidays for state workers. Although Suffolk County offices shut down for the day, state workers in non-Suffolk County offices can float the holiday for 60 days, and deprive the taxpayers of their services on a day, say, when the sun is a little bit warmer. Sweet! Not something I ever enjoyed when I was in the private sector. As a state worker I already get lots of paid holidays without these two losers, and would gladly give them up if it would save the state some money. I doubt my union would go for that, though. I agree we could all stand to take more time off, but don't think taking these 2 days is the best way to get to that ideal.  

          • You could say the same thing about Christmas.

            At least "Evacuation Day" is ostensibly secular.

          • Confusing the problem

            The problem isn't that city employees have Evacuation Day off, it's that nobody else does.

            sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
          • Not really

            I'm indifferent on Evacuation Day.  I just think that the argument that you made sucks.  The fact that businesses choose to be open on a holiday has nothing to do with the decision, nor should it.  If we stopped celebrating holidays that businesses decided to not celebrate, we'd be at work Thanksgiving morning, Independence Day, Labor Day, and more.  Heck, for-profit hospitals are open every day; maybe we should just eliminate all holidays.

  6. Yes folks, you're doing a GREAT job!

     Of running Massachusetts into the toilet! Raises like candy! No good, there's going to be a candy tax, scratch that. How come patronage is only good for democrats? Taxes are going up, so is spending. We have no rainy day fund, governor Patrick said that in January of '07 This absolute power thing may be working for you, but it's killing the rest of us.  

    • spending is up?

      the state's had 2.5 BILLION in emergency cuts so far this year. We're facing billions more next budget. If you're going to rant and rave, please at least be accurate.  

      • You asked for it!

        Walsh! 48 toll takers by attrition! Flagmen, $12,500 in savings! Hiring Deville's friends. Hiring Aloisi's sister! Cutting DMR schools? It's ok, they don't vote. Raises all over Beacon Hill.

        Harming the most vulnerable segment of our population, while giving yourselves fat pay raises!

        Yes, even democratic excrement is stinking here. A lot!

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