Whatever you think of the present occupant of the Corner Office, there is no doubt that governors of Massachusetts are accountable to the people. Every four years, there is an election, and unlike many elections in Massachusetts (like, say, the elections for Register of Deeds or Clerk of Courts), races for governor always draw competition. In fact, the last time a governor had a relatively easy re-election battle was in 1994, when Bill Weld rode a resurgent economy, a Republican wave, and a fawning media to win a second term in 1994. 1998, 2002, and 2006 all featured interesting primaries and tough battles that either party could have won.
Governors, thus, are held accountable every four years. They may not always accomplish what the people want, but they have right incentives. They are not islands of unaccountability, unlike the many tiny fiefdoms in our state and municipal government that are run by people who are either actually appointed for life (judges) or whose election to obscure posts means they will be in office until retirement, a race for something else, appointment to another job, indictment, or death.
That’s why the Governor’s move to take over the Massachusetts Probation Department is a great idea.