Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whoa, THIS is What Real Governance Looks Like?

Another day, another example of Gov. Patrick taking a politically tough but important stand. Can there be any question that he's got a position secure in a possible Obama administration? There's no way we would see such political courage unless there was significant political cover.

Today it's police details. The governor is pushing to reduce the use of police officers to direct traffic at construction sites on state roads. It doesn't do anything about police use on local roads (which accounts for over 90% of the roads in the state, apparently), but it gives municipalities some political cover to save some money.

I don't have a problem with police details in the abstract. I do believe they help keep things orderly around a construction site, and it gives the officers a way to make some extra money while in a position to continue to help the community. All these cops who make serious money on details are going to go work second jobs elsewhere. Cities and towns may miss them when they're gone.

But the money at stake is too high, especially now, when we're going to go through another round of revenue shortfalls.

The governor's other big stance came yesterday, when he blocked pension increases for retired state employees. Again, it's tough because retirees are feeling the pinch, just like the rest of us. But the state just can't afford it this time.

Add to that the serious work being done to address the debt loads of the various transportation departments, and we are seeing the rarest of things: A governor working as though he has little time left in office to effect change, and a bureaucracy and legislature that doesn't realize he's already got a foot out the door (and thus are still willing to deal with him). If an Obama victory moves from a likelihood to a fait accompli, maybe things will change and the lame duck status will kick in. And hey, maybe he isn't gunning for work in Washington, which would be all the more extraordinary. I'll believe it when I see it. Most people agree with me, too.

For now, Patrick is working hard to make up for a disastrous first year in office with a breakout sophomore season. Can he see it through before the last Acela leaves for DC?

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