So this is what our politics is going to look like for the foreseeable future. Could be entertaining.
You might recall that Governor Baker is proposing, as part of his budget, to give the MBTA a 50% bump next fiscal year, up to almost $200 million, in direct state aid. Because, you know, it’s broken, and it has to be fixed.
Stephanie Pollack, Baker’s transportation secretary, said the transit agency’s disastrous winter — marked by days of system-wide closures, shuttered rail lines and fuming commuters — made it clear some investment was necessary, even as Baker has pledged not to raise taxes or fees.
“We need to get a handle on the structural deficit, and there needs to be a sustainable long-term plan so that the T can operate in the revenue it has available to it. This fiscal year was not the year to tackle that type of challenge,” Pollack said in an interview.
And what was the reaction from our friends in the legislature?
“Well, giving the T more money right now is kind of crazy,” [House Majority Leader Ron] Mariano told reporters after a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast, where Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo delivered a speech. “I think they have to begin to demonstrate that they can use that money effectively. … There seems to be no one looking at long-term maintenance or any maintenance. So until we can figure out what’s going on over there … I think it might be a little crazy to be spending money.” …
Speaking to reporters afterward, DeLeo was cool to Baker’s initial plan to boost state funding.
“I think we have to try to make sure the house is in order, in terms of the T structure and whatnot, before we talk about additional funds,” he said.
Oh for the love of Pete. You know what’s “crazy”? What’s crazy is that the T doesn’t work, and that the legislature doesn’t really seem to care. That’s crazy. DeLeo, Mariano and the rest of them can natter on all they want about a long-term maintenance plan and the T structure “and whatnot,” blah blah blah. But meanwhile, maybe somebody should make sure that the trains don’t catch fire.
So let’s be clear: Charlie Baker is right about this (and about this too, for that matter), and the House Democrats are wrong. If this keeps up, things could get pretty interesting around these parts.
Baker on Medicaid:
I was wondering if this enrollment review is as substantial as advertised, or if it is mostly a correction to the artificially high enrollment which we ended up with as a result of the Connector IT problems.
Charley on the MTA says
These guys have absolutely no clue. Mariano:
As if *it’s not their freaking job to know this already.* As if they’ve been paying no attention whatsoever. As if they shouldn’t have been asking these exact questions for years.
So … primary challenges?
… the son of the revenge of…
“Reform before revenue”
Everything old is new again…
Trickle up says
which is, roughly,
And God forbid there should ever be any reform.
I really like this quote from Mariano (emphasis added):
It’s almost as though the T were some autonomous independent power, or someone in a contract dispute who had to be wheedled and punished. Oh sure, I’ll do this for you, but you have to do that first.
If only there were some level of government that, I dunno, wrote the laws under which the T is organized and operates, and could rewrite them to make things better.
report from Baker’s MBTA Commission, which, if by some slim chance it does recommend additional funding, they can then still say they have to first make sure that the T’s house is in order etc..
Bob Neer says
That can squeeze the leadership from both the left and the right. Who knows, perhaps with a few more indictments here and there, and a shift of 20 or so seats in the next election to reformers … things may improve.
Peter Porcupine says
I made this case last election about the Sec of State race.
At the end of the day you will vote for the Dem no matter how bad because…I dunno, you fear Dick Cheney? And because you cannot be relied on as allies the DeLeos will prosper
It will never work for a race like SoS, especially where nobody had any idea who David D’Whatshisname was. Has to be something much higher profile.
said something offensive.
Isn’t Quincy the city the Red Line couldn’t get to for much of this past month? I wonder how his constituents feel about his attitude.
And I feel like Mariano is a moron. Pretty cut and dry. If I give someone 50 dollars to last them a week, I’m not going to complain “oh, well, they only spent their money on food. They didn’t invest any of it into an IRA. I’m not giving them more money until they can show they responsibly spend what they already get.”
The posture of Mr. DeLeo and his cronies towards the MBTA has been clear enough for as long as he has held the Speaker’s seat. Our party has had ample opportunity to encourage Mr. DeLeo to, well, act more like a Democrat. In 2012, on the same topic, Mr. DeLeo embarrassed Deval Patrick, a sitting Democratic governor and head of our party at the time, and paid NO consequences.
Perhaps, eventually, the rest of BMG will figure out that “liberal” and “Democrat” are mutually exclusive terms when describing Mr. DeLeo — and therefore the Democratic legislature, over which he now has iron-clad domination.
We are now reaping the harvest of the seeds we Democrats have been planting for years.
The average Democrat is better than the average Republican. We have many non-average Dems around here.
Honestly, Tom, has anyone around here ever confused Bob DeLeo with a “liberal Democrat”?
A number of people here have challenged my progressive/Democratic creds because of my outspoken criticism of Mr. DeLeo.
If you’ve got quotes to prove it, I’ll say I’m wrong. But as I recall it, a number of people here shared your view on Mr. DeLeo, but disagreed with your assertions that Governor Baker would be the same as, or better than, Martha Coakley. They did so precisely because having a Republican governor provides plenty of cover for DeLeo’s more conservative side.
There’s plenty of sympathy for your feelings about DeLeo and the legislature, and plenty of frustration about the institutional difficulty of cracking that particular nut.
I recall lots of dispute on Baker/Coakley. I recall very little on DeLeo.
You may be correct. It’s sometimes hard for me to differentiate the reaction to my posture towards Ms. Coakley from the reaction towards Mr. DeLeo.
It seems to me that Governor Baker is stripping the cover from Mr. DeLeo, though, isn’t he?
Bob Neer says
He’s got BMG on his side, for example, which is impressive work for just a few weeks. What The Cabal (i.e. DeLeo et al) need now is a few stories on drapes and cars, if they can get them. And no indictments of themselves, of course …
very much, does it?
On the contrary, Baker seems to be UN-covering DeLeo et als.’ right flank. DeLeo et al. could be out-maneuvered from the left, if any Democrats would support him. Do you suppose that will happen? I don’t. They will support DeLeo, and in two years you will pretend that this never happened, and that the T cratered because there was a Republican governor.
There are vanishingly few “liberal Democrats” in our state legislature. There are only Democrats, and the Massachusetts Democratic Party is essentially a center-right, conservative party.
Do you really think that Governor Coakley would be challenging the House like this, rather than finding a way to give them cover so that they might “work together” at some future time?
…or attended a convention if you think the Mass Dem Party as an institution is conservative or even center-right, though we do of course have conservative and center-right people within our ranks.
just happen to be the Leadership of the Democratic Party, elected by the entire caucus, and govern the entire state from the center-right.
The platform is just talk, and talk is cheap.
I doubt very highly if the Speakership were a statewide elected office that Deleo would be the favorite of any nominating convention. You and SomervilleTom are making it sound like you think we either are or should be more like many Communist states where the General-Secretary, technically only a party office, is for all practical purposes the head of the government as well.
“be more like many Communist states”? The cold war is over.
The more you argue this point, the more you demonstrate the dysfunction and irrelevance of the “institutional” Democratic Party.
Nobody cares who the “legislative caucus” is. Nobody even knows WHAT the legislative caucus is. Like it or not, Mr. DeLeo has great big “D” after his name, as do all his cronies. That makes him a DEMOCRAT. That means that all of us who call ourselves Democrats pay the price for his intransigence.
The fact remains that people with a “D” after their name have had complete domination of the government of this state for eight years, and have blown it. The “platform” is meaningless. Your argument sounds like the kind of evasions a company makes when it knows it screwed up — “well, that’s really not OUR responsibility, you see. While it’s true that we designed, built, marketed, sold, and profited from the product, we’re not actually RESPONSIBLE for the fact that it caused millions of dollars worth of damage”. No doubt that product was accompanied by a disclaimer filled with tiny print that says a thousand different ways that the company isn’t liable and isn’t responsible. It doesn’t work. Such disclaimers are meaningless, and such postures generally backfire.
Nope. No sale. Mr. DeLeo is a Democrat. Our legislature is dominated by Democrats. If the legislative caucus didn’t want Mr. DeLeo to have the power he has, it should have found a way to rein him in. They did not.
I’m not advocating Communism, for crying out loud. I’m talking about the K-Mart rule: You break it, you own it.
…or of trying to refight the Cold War. I was making a comparison to the structure prevalent in such systems where someone like Gorbachev was the de facto head of the USSR even though his title was General Secretary of the party and not (at least at first) President or Primier of the USSR. I think it is a good thing we don’t have such a system and where there is in fact some separation between what constitutes the party and what constitutes the government. At the end of the day there is no way for party insiders such as the state committee to refuse to allow someone to run and be elected as a Democrat for lack of loyalty to the platform, and from the standpoint of democracy I don’t think any of us would really want that.
Not interested in the party’s basic values, you don’t get to use (and sully) its brand.
…and revert to smoke filled nominations? That’s what it’s going to look like to average voters who will howl that their choices were made for them by the party bosses. Also, how will loyalty be decided and by whom? Who is to say we’ll let your dissent on issue x slide, but not issue y? Or that we’ll let your dissent on a given issue slide in one district because you couldn’t get elected otherwise, but not in another where you can afford to tow the line. The voters are ultimately responsible for whom they elect in a non-parliamentary system like ours. I say save excommunication for churches (though I don’t like that either, but I digress).
@ Christopher’s “So get rid of primaries…” comment:
Sorry, Christopher, but you have the process exactly backwards. I remind you that an analogous transformation in the national party in 1968, when the national party evicted its southern racists, was a direct of consequence of OPENING primaries.
Nobody is discussing or proposing “ex-communication” or reverting to “smoke filled nominations” or anything like that. Some of us are, instead, observing what seems to be plain fact: The current institutional Massachusetts Democratic Party has become irrelevant to Massachusetts Democrats. The actual effect of our overwhelming Democratic (at least in party affiliation) government has been to disenfranchise a majority of Massachusetts Democrats.
The process that is in place has resulted in bad government, an anemic and losing gubernatorial nominee, completely failing infrastructure, and economic and tax policies so right-wing that a GOP governor is gaining points from the LEFT of the legislature.
The process has resulted in the almost complete concentration of political power in one individual who does NOT reflect the stance of a majority of Massachusetts Democrats, who has no reservations whatsoever about giving the finger to the institutional Massachusetts Democratic Party (and a sitting Democratic governor), and who barely escaped criminal indictments in the Probation Department scandal (in no small part because of the many family members, friends, contributors that Mr. O’Brien put on the Probation Department payroll at Mr. DeLeo’s request).
REAL primaries, with real candidates that stand a real chance of unseating powerful renegades like Mr. DeLeo, would be a welcome change from the current utterly dysfunctional process.
I’ve long advocated for removing the cultural taboo against primarying incumbents, though I will caution they won’t always turn out as we might hope.
You describe an extreme, I advocate a middle ground that exists in functional and healthy democracies.
An effective political organization has carrots and sticks that ultimately either succeed or fail at inducing politicians affiliated with that organization to remain aligned with the vision, values, and general orientation of the party. Racist southern Democrats were effectively expelled from the national Democratic Party in 1968, because one of the outcomes of the 1968 convention chaos was a rejection of racism. I don’t believe that any specific individuals were identified by name. There was absolutely no mistake about the impact of the result.
A political organization that is unwilling or unable to even acknowledge, never mind heal, its internal dysfunction is not worth my time. I don’t care whether that organization is called “Massachusetts Voters For Creation of Bicycle Trails for Native Fish” or the “Massachusetts Democratic Party”.
The current legislature — especially the current House — is an embarrassment to most Massachusetts Democrats. The current House leadership is an even more acute embarrassment.
In my view, the very first step in restoring the Massachusetts Democratic Party (including the “legislative caucus” or any other arcane entities that are relevant) to a healthy, sustainable, effective political organization is
for the party to OWN the collapse we see today. No organization can solve a problem without first acknowledging the existence of the problem.
The national Democratic Party did this in 1968. The Massachusetts Democratic Party can do this in 2015.
The Mass Dem Party, “as an institution”, is utterly and completely irrelevant to what is happening in this state. Bob DeLeo runs this state. Whether or not he is a “leader” of the institution you refer to is meaningless.
When Deval Patrick, a member of the Mass Dem Party, was also Governor and was publicly humiliated by Mr. DeLeo, I don’t remember the Mass Dem Party emitting so much as a peep. Mr. DeLeo should have been taken to the woodshed.
Your comments, here and elsewhere, do highlight a very REAL problem for our party. The very fact that the institution that should BE our party is a completely meaningless backwater is itself crucial to understanding and perhaps solving the dysfunction of our current government.
This government is controlled by a man who apparently owes no allegiance to ANY formal organization, least of all the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
He does not owe allegiance to the institutional party, and thus in my view the institutional party is under no obligation to claim him.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party can, as you seem to be doing, ignore him if they want. They claim him if they want. The “institutional” party is meaningless.
You seem to be arguing a point that I’ve already stipulated. Be that as it may, it has no bearing on Democrats or governance in Massachusetts.
Peter Porcupine says
You will all chicken out.
If you meant what you said every legislator who voted to keep DeLeo would have a primary.
They will not. You merely seek to divert accountability for your rhetoric with artificial distinctions that it’s not your fault. The stars made you underlings.
The only Democrat in MA -as you seek to define it – is Jill Stein.
At the end of the day, the Massachusetts GOP will remain an insignificant handful of right-wing miscreants, while the rest of the state sorts out what party will represent nearly all Massachusetts voters (registered Democrats and unenrolled voters).
Enough with the concern-trolling. I encourage you to pay rather more attention to healing the Massachusetts GOP, and leave the needed changes to the Massachusetts Democratic Party (or some replacement) to we Democrats.
There are a number of excellent Democrats in Massachusetts. Here are just a few names that come to mind:
– Mike Capuano
– Joe Curtatone
– Denise Provist
– Pat Jehlen
The list is, in fact quite lengthy. Many times longer, in fact, than any list of reasonably moderate Massachusetts republicans. Keep on coming with the Scott Browns and Mitt Romneys (or, for that matter, the Jane Swifts) and see how far you guys get.
is a sure way to lose every single challenge. If you are representative of the Mass GOP’s ability to organize no wonder you will forever be a third tier party.
What is needed is to take a look at a handful where we may actually be able to win and challenge those districts in 2016. You only need a couple to scare these folks.
which don’t really don’t change all that much, the best MA Republicans could hope to do in the House would be 40’s and the Senate is probably at close to max right now. Absent pro-GOP 2020 gerrymandering of course. There’s just no way in the next ten years or so to overcome the anti-GOP urban bias.
“Adding water to that fire would be crazy. Clearly it didn’t use the water it had smartly. And don’t get me started on the idea of bringing in firefighters.”
“Going to the gym three times as often would be crazy. Going once a week isn’t getting results, why would three times a week?”
“Adding more gas to this car would be crazy. I put in one gallon and the car ran out in less than 30 miles!”
I want the membership type pablo has…how does he get to recommend a post three times?
Next week Deleo will move on to “yada yada yada” as the reason he continues to do nothing to fix the T.
DeLeo and Mariano are disgraceful but I heard Baker say in no uncertain terms yesterday that his proposed T funding is a “placeholder” and not an ongoing investment. He expects his panel to tell him how to “reform” the T, but for now he’ll take headlines about increasing its funding since it’s been such a prominent issue thanks to the snow.
Baker is embarrassing us with this. Shame
How about WE stop dicking around with the political affiliation of the person who caused a problem v who is fixing it and JUST FREAKING FIX IT ALREADY. LIKE REALLY.
I was conjuring with elsewhere, has come and gone. The lege is gonna dither and say stupid stuff, Baker is gonna pose and talk admin reform, both will win the argument (staged for their respective bases), everyone is reelected, not one penny is spent and when the Red Line Caves In the whole stupid process with begin anew.
Sadly, BMG apparently can’t handle iframe embeds (now the standard).
Here is an example (this time featuring newly-elected Mayor Walsh) of what could have been a “Come to Jesus” moment for the Democratic Party.
It should have been a softball question, coming after the Probation Department verdicts had been announced:
Q: Based on having served in the legislature and observing the trial (I know you weren’t in the courtroom, I know you weren’t on the jury), was John O’Brien guilty of a crime?
A: I don’t think so
Come on guys, how hard IS this?
Bob Neer says
iframes work fine.
I’ll try it next time!
Above this comment is the embed code copied from my earlier youtube link.
Perhaps you are referring to editing a new post?
At least in my browser, the “Text” tab only appears when I create or edit a new post. The “Reply” editor has only a “Preview” button.
The old-fashioned “embed” tags work fine, as to other tags like “img”, “href”, and so on. In the comment editor, it looks to me as though iframe is not supported.
Bob Neer says
I was talking about new posts. I’ve never tried to embed an iframe in a comment 🙂