Monday, August 30, 2010

This gets me every time - and more inexplicable campaign strategy from Tim Cahill

Even the most appalling displays of government arrogance tend to lose their ability to shock as time passes.  This one, though, still gets me every time.  In the context of a State House News article about various proposals to reduce the sales and income taxes here in Massachusetts, we trip over this casual mention of a legislative mugging that does not get nearly the continued attention it deserves:
Independent candidate for governor Tim Cahill and Republican candidate Charles Baker, in addition to backing a 5 percent sales tax rate, favor reducing the income tax rate to 5 percent, a rate cut that voters statewide approved in 2000, by a 56-38 margin, but which the Legislature stopped implementing in 2002. The ballot law called for a 5 percent rate by 2003. The rate now sits at 5.3 percent.
Isn't that something?  A voter initiative passed in 2000 by nearly twenty points - by any measure a landslide - and two years later the Legislature... "stopped implementing.''  And lest anyone suggest the voters were helpless victims here, it should be noted well that three election cycles have come and gone in the intervening period, each re-installing the vast majority of the self-same legislative offenders to term after unopposed term.

I'd be remiss if I skipped the opportunity to point out that while Treasurer 'Zuul' Cahill does in fact currently support cutting the income tax to the voter-mandated five percent, he hummed a very different (opposite) tune back in February when Charlie Baker initially announced his support of the roll-back, telling the State House News "I don't think it's necessary at this point," and declaring that an income tax cut would not "put people back to work."  If it's consistency you're looking for, Cahill also opposed a roll-back in the income tax in 2006, when he endorsed then-candidate Deval Patrick for the governorship and pronounced Patrick's own opposition to an income tax cut, "courageous."  But of course back then Cahill wasn't running for Governor as an "independent."

Speaking of Treasurer Tim, you may have noticed that he is running a television ad.  Shortly into that ad comes a coffee-spurting-from-the-nose laugh line as the narrator intones, "Tim Cahill runs the lottery with no scandals and record returns."

"[W]ith no scandals."  Even a viewer with no knowledge whatsoever about Massachusetts politics would   flag that clause as oddly defensive and jarring in a Google-inducing way.  And in an age of hand-held access to the sum total of human knowledge, Cahill's decision to include the easily-disproved claim must be deemed a particularly puzzling example of leading with one's chin.  "No scandals"... unless one's definition of "scandal" includes this, from the Boston Globe on August 14, 2008:
The Massachusetts State Lottery's largest vendor paid in excess of $132,000 in consulting fees to one of state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill's closest friends and political confidants, at the same time Cahill steered tens of millions of dollars in contracts to the national firm, according to records and officials.

Cahill first decided in August 2004 to renew a $21 million contract with Georgia-based Scientific Games, which had been sharply criticized for the quality of the scratch tickets it produced, even after Cahill's top aides recommended that he spread the work around more among multiple vendors, say people with direct knowledge of the process. Cahill, in his role as state treasurer, oversees the Massachusetts Lottery Commission.

Cahill has since given Scientific Games three one-year extensions worth over $30 million in additional state payments.
Or this, from the Boston Globe on January 19, 2009:
Thomas F. Kelly, a political confidant and close friend of State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, stood to make as much as $2.4 million in fees from a deal he tried to broker for a gaming company with the state lottery, which is under Cahill's control, according to a copy of his contract.
The State Ethics Commission thought that one was worth a look (Boston Globe, March 24, 2009): 
State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill is facing a state ethics inquiry for awarding a $21 million state lottery contract to a company that was secretly paying Cahill's close friend and fund-raiser, Thomas F. Kelly, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, according to multiple people who have been briefed on the investigation.Investigators from the state Ethics Commission interviewed Cahill this month about his decision in 2004 to award the contract to Scientific Games to make scratch tickets, despite a recommendation from his own staff that Scientific Games receive less state work, said two of the people who have been briefed. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because Ethics Commission investigations are confidential.
The list goes on (no really, it does), but you get the point.  One would have to deploy a particularly forgiving definition of the word "scandal" to conclude that Cahill's claim to have run the lottery "with no scandals" is anything other than an, er, misstatement of the facts.  A "depends on the meaning of the word is" type situation, with "scandal" subbing for "is." 

And even if one makes the generous assumption that the Cahill ad's scandal assertion is in fact true, as pertaining specifically to the lottery, so what?  The Massachusetts Lottery is but one of several state agencies that the Treasurer oversees.  If Terry Francona were to boast that he'd "managed the outfield without any errors," would you not immediately ask, "okay, but what happened on the rest of the field?"

In Cahill's case, enough has happened for the Boston Globe's editors to conclude that his stewardship of the Treasury and the various offices it oversees, coupled with his highly questionable campaign fund-raising practices, "raises [the] specter of pay-to-play government."  I previously ran through Cahill's scandals here, and won't rehearse that now.  Give that link a click, though, if you remain unconvinced.

The point is, "without any scandals" does not describe Tim Cahill's stewardship of the lottery, nor of the rest of his portfolio.  More, inclusion of the claim in a television ad running statewide invites scrutiny of the claim, which can only result in the recycling of previous negative news coverage.  Truly a head-scratching decision.

Of course, I gave up on trying to understand the logic of the Cahill campaign when they chose black as their campaign color.  Every five year old instinctively knows that the guy dressed in black is the bad guy.

UPDATE: Temporarily restoring my faith in the fourth estate, the Globe's Frank Phillips this morning rakes Cahill over the coals for his disingenuous ad:
The facts
Cahill, in his management of the lottery, has faced serious allegations that he engaged in a so-called pay-to-play scheme.

His decision in 2004 to extend the $21 million contract of Scientific Games International to provide 80 percent of the lottery’s scratch tickets drew criticism that the selection was an insider deal.

One of his closest friends and political associates, Thomas F. Kelly, was secretly on the Scientific Games payroll, drawing in excess of $132,000 in consulting fees over four years, to look after the giant gaming firm’s interest at the lottery. In that time, the lottery gave Scientific Games three one-year extensions worth more than $30 million.

With the 2004 contract decision pending, Kelly, one of Cahill’s chief fund-raisers, was also pushing the company’s executives to donate to the treasurer’s political committee. Top aides in Cahill’s office at the time were urging that Scientific Games’s share of the scratch ticket work be reduced. Cahill rejected the advice.

Cahill has denied that he knew that Kelly, a longtime friend and Quincy neighbor, was on the Scientific Games payroll or that he was seeking campaign donations from the company’s executives.

Three months after Cahill’s decision to extend the contract, the company sponsored a fund-raiser for Cahill in New York that generated nearly $20,000 in donations.
 Cahill's defense, apparently, is that the state ethics commission (which has very limited investigative authority and resources) decided in April that "this matter does not warrant further actions at this time."  This, says Cahill, "means I didn't do anything wrong."

So that clears it up.  When he says "with no scandals," what Cahill really means is "with no convictions."  That's confidence-inspiring.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Charlie Baker Ad



See more at www.charliebaker2010.com

I've made no bones about being in the tank for Charlie.  But it seems to me, objectively (or as much so as I can be) that in thirty seconds this ad  hits the mark about as squarely as it's been hit this cycle.  Frustrated voters are looking for someone who wants to grab hold of the state's problems, own them, and solve them - without constantly blaming his predecessors, or the national economy, or his political opponents.  They want, in short, a take-charge CEO who knows what he wants to do and how to do it. 

Governor Patrick clearly is not that guy.  As The State House News Service's Jim O'Sullivan noted earlier this week, Patrick's campaign for re-election has been even lighter on specifics than his initial run four years ago (something I'd have considered an impossibility, but O'Sullivan makes the case):
Deval Patrick was pilloried four years ago during both the primary and general election campaigns for what his opponents called overpromising, a glut of pricey policy avowals that pleased many constituencies while frustrating critics who called them unattainable.

The governor is running no such risk this time.

While Patrick talks often about administration calling cards like the education overhaul, transportation restructuring and infrastructure investments, his reelection campaign has been light – to the point of airy – about what he would do in a second term. Patrick has promised to “finish what we started,” but offered almost no specific policy initiatives.

Campaign aides said they could not pinpoint a specific new policy Patrick has played up on the trail, instead pointing to implementation challenges posed by laws passed during his first term.
 The Tim Cahill running for governor as an "independent" is not even a real person; he's a political construct armed with consultant-penned talking points, who despite his two terms as state treasurer is consistently unable to offer so much as a single specific proposal to get the state's budget in order.

Baker, in contrast (again from O'Sullivan),
has touted a series of reforms his campaign said could save $1 billion, including curtailing access to state benefits, bypassing union signoff on municipal workers’ health insurance, and removing statutory obstacles to the privatization of state services.
Now, it's probably a stretch to believe that even in this year of political upheaval, most voters will take the time to go to Baker's website and read the detailed specifics of his proposals.  And God knows they won't find those details in a newspaper story any time soon.  The ad above, though, distills the essence of his campaign: Charlie is the guy Massachusetts needs right now.  He has the experience, the will and the determination to do the job as it should be done.  It will be interesting to see how viewers (voters) react.

Monday, August 23, 2010

More election year transformations

In an interesting article this morning, the Globe reports that right here in Massachusetts, longtime Democratic legislative incumbents are tacking to the right in an attempt to hang on to their offices in a year when the electorate is fed up with Democratically-controlled Beacon Hill.
Susan L. Fargo, a veteran Democratic state senator from Lincoln, is on the campaign trail armed with a Republican talking point: Repeal last year’s sales and alcohol tax increases.

Allen J. McCarthy, a Democratic state representative from East Bridgewater, has been talking about spending cuts, saying voters want to know “we’ve been tightening our belt, too.’’

And Jennifer L. Flanagan, a Democratic state senator from Leominster, went to a Tea Party movement meeting and declared herself a “cheap Democrat’’ in touch with angry voters.

Across traditionally Democratic Massachusetts, Democratic state lawmakers are trying, sometimes a bit awkwardly, to adapt to a perilous political climate, fearing that many voters are skeptical of incumbents, angry about spending and taxes, and hungry for new faces on Beacon Hill.

Facing Republican challengers in swing districts, these Democrats, in addition to trumpeting their accomplishments over the last two years, are trying to burnish their independent bona fides, highlighting times they have stood up to legislative leaders, broken with party orthodoxy, and fought for struggling families.
 So let's see.  Entrenched incumbent Democrats suddenly adopting the verbiage of fiscally conservative, 'independent' outsiders, and trying "sometimes a bit awkwardly" to convince angry voters to believe their rhetoric and disregard their records.  Now why does that sound so familiar?

Ah yes.  Now I remember. 

Since this particular variety of opportunistic election year transformation is so prevalent in the Commonwealth, it seems to me there ought to be some kind of shorthand that the media can deploy to describe it... 

How about "pulling a Cahill"?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Suggested reading

Busy week leaving little time for bloviation.  To avoid wasting the time of anyone kind enough to check in here occasionally, I offer a few links to timely and important writing, 'in case you missed it.'

In the Globe, Joan Vennochi takes Governor Patrick to task for his prickly prevarications on the topic of Cape Wind, at an environmental forum hosted Monday by Mass INC:
BY NOW, Governor Deval Patrick should have only good answers to tough questions about Cape Wind. He doesn’t. And, that’s no laughing matter for Massachusetts rate payers, who will be subsidizing the plan to put 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.
In the Herald, the Pioneer Institute's Charlie Chieppo clears up the confusion that Governor Patrick and Treasurer Cahill are deliberately creating about the Big Dig, in their joint attempt to disingenuously tag Charlie Baker with responsibility for the project:
Gov. Deval Patrick says Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker developed and supported an out-of-control Big Dig financing scheme that was misleading, diverted money from other transportation projects and diminished public confidence in state government.

“He’s got to answer for it,” the governor declared, seemingly without a hint of irony.

It’s a line that could have come from his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, when Patrick was swept into office after railing against the “Big Dig culture on Beacon Hill.” But it’s stunning to hear the governor say it in 2010, considering that less than a year ago his secretary of transportation was the guy who literally wrote the book on the Big Dig...
The Washington Post examines the national implications of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, (somehow neglecting to notice that Governor Patrick  has been stuck near 40% for the better part of a year):
Many of the top strategists in Obama's political circle are helping to orchestrate Patrick's reelection campaign, and they are looking to his contest for clues to what might work for the president in 2012...
This meme seems to have caught on, with similarly-themed analysis popping up in the Atlantic, Salon.com, and elsewhere.  Here's hoping the only "clue" the president's political circle gets from us is: "hope & change + far left governance = one term."


Here's one that you probably did miss, and that you should forward to others who might also have missed it.  The Eagle-Tribune reports on a "teacher" who stopped teaching in the Peabody public school system in 1986, but never truly "left."  Instead, she took a never-ending series of "leaves" while she worked full time for the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, allowing her too continue to accrue credit toward a rich public pension:
Each year since she left her job in the school system in 1986 to join the staff of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, Peabody High School teacher Annemarie Dubois was routinely granted a leave rather than being forced to separate from the system.

As a result, she was allowed to accumulate time toward what will be a generous pension when she retires. And to this day she retains the right to return to her former position even though she has been out of the classroom for 24 years.

This despite the fact she has spent most of those years negotiating against the city in her role as bargaining agent for the city's teachers.
This, by the way, occurs under the pension system that Tim Cahill continues to defend - the system Cahill told his allies in the AFL-CIO that he won't touch if he is elected Governor.

 On the same broad topic, a good op-ed from the Wall Street Journal, on the nationwide problem of unfunded public pensions, and the additional problem created by persistent rumors of a federal bailout:
Unfortunately, leaders in Illinois and elsewhere are now talking quietly about the possibility of a federal bailout. Such speculation undermines state and local efforts to reform pension systems or make other hard choices. Why agonize over unpopular budget cuts or tax increases if the feds will ride to the rescue?

Bailing out state pensions would be astronomically expensive. According to a Pew Foundation estimate this year, the total unfunded liabilities of the 50 states' pension funds amounted to about $1 trillion in 2008. Another recent study, by Josh Rauh of Northwestern and Robert Novy-Marx of the Chicago Booth School of Business, estimated that the unfunded liability was closer to $3 trillion. Adding the liabilities of municipal pension funds makes the total even larger...

And in perhaps the most shocking news of the week, Governor Deval Patrick discovered that cutting taxes stimulates consumer spending:
After signing the economic development bill, Patrick said he was "particularly pleased that the bill includes a sales tax holiday, as it will give individuals, families and businesses the immediate economic boost we so critically need."

Retailers have also been quick to seize on the holiday, with some offering additional discounts to lure in shoppers.
Unfortunately, once the weekend was out Patrick quickly forgot again, reverting to his natural, pro-tax form.




Finally, the gang at Red Mass Group posted another fun dig at the Cahill campaign and its shaky underpinnings.

Friday, August 13, 2010

So much truth in one small Herald article

From today's Herald:
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch sent a taunting message yesterday to fellow Democrat Gov.Deval Patrick and Beacon Hill leaders on the eve of the Bay State’s two-day tax holiday: Keep the tax hikes coming.

“It’s fine whenever Massachusetts wants to raise their taxes, because it always benefits us up here,” Lynch said, adding that Massachusetts’ high sales and income taxes have sent scores of shoppers and business owners over the border. “There’s a reason why our economy is doing better than many other states.”

Patrick - who has refused to rule out new taxes if he were re-elected - moved to slap higher levies on sugar and bottled water this year but was blocked by Democratic lawmakers leery of voter payback in November...

Lynch said he talks to Bay State businesses owners “all the time” who are looking to move to New Hampshire.

"It’s easier to attract workers when you have a good quality of life and a very business-friendly environment,” Lynch said.
Patrick should be glad Governor Lynch is a Democrat.  Imagine what he might have said if he were a Republican.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Morning Trivia - Big Dig Edition

Question: What former Massachusetts state government official described himself in his own professional biography as the "principal author of landmark legislation to establish the statutory framework for the operation, maintenance and financing" of the Central Artery Project, more commonly known 'round these parts at the Big Dig?


Answer: That would be Jim Aloisi, the man Governor Patrick appointed in late 2008 to serve as his second Secretary of Transportation.  Aloisi went on to spend the better part of 2009 committing a series of bizarre and increasingly embarrassing gaffes, culminating in his dismissal from service in September of that year.


Well before he was tapped by Patrick, Aloisi served as the long time counsel (first inside and then outside, billing the Commonwealth to the tune of several million bucks) for the Mass Turnpike Authority.  There, Aloisi did in fact write the legislation that "establish[ed] the statutory framework for the operation, maintenance and financing" of the Big Dig.  Again, Aloisi's words, and a  big part of the depth of experience that Governor Patrick praised when he hired Aloisi in December '08.


Not that you'd know any of that from Patrick's recent statements on the topic of the Big Dig.  Here's the Associated Press reporting on a Patrick presser held yesterday:
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and independent Timothy Cahill ratcheted up criticism Wednesday of their GOP rival in the governor's race, Charles Baker, for his role in Big Dig financing decisions that Patrick said were made to mislead the public.
After a news conference on the Statehouse steps, Patrick told reporters that Baker helped develop and support a "flawed" Big Dig financing plan that he said has led to a loss of public confidence in state government.
"That whole financing scheme was about misleading the public, about not telling the public the truth," Patrick said.
Patrick knows that statements like this one are enough to generate headlines that combine "Charlie Baker" and "Big Dig financing scheme."  The political upside of those headlines is more than enough to overcome any qualms he might have about the accuracy of the contention.  Charlie Baker, for his part, has been clear about his involvement in the project and its financing.  As Secretary of Administration and Finance during the Weld Administration, he worked with the Clinton Administration, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and others to develop a plan to compensate for the 10 percent of the project's financing that was lost when the feds pulled funding.  Baker also points out, correctly, that the Patrick Administration is currently using the very same financing structure to fund its bridge program, and that variations on the plan are in use in other states across the country.


Contrast that with Patrick's erstwhile Secretary of Transportation, who openly acknowledged - bragged, even - that it was he who was the "principal author" of the legislation that established the statutory framework for the operation and financing of the Big Dig.  Put in context, it is hard to take Governor Patrick's admonition of Baker for anything but the disingenuous political posturing that it is.


I wrote back in June about the heralded return of "Candidate Patrick," he of soaring rhetoric and savvy political instincts.  Unfortunately, this is part and parcel of "Candidate Patrick" too: the false outrage, the sanctimony, the willingness to throw accusations at the wall to see what might stick, with little or no regard for factual accuracy.


Governor Patrick knows who "developed and supported the financing scheme for the Big Dig," and he knows it was not Charlie Baker.


Treasurer Cahill also glommed onto the Big Dig Charlie meme yesterday,  but he can hardly be blamed.  That poor guy barely knows who he is anymore, never mind the particulars of what he is talking about at any given time as he casts about for something to generate media attention to his flagging campaign.  Patrick said the words "Charlie Baker" and "Big Dig," and Cahill saw reporters' ears perk up.  So he dutifully repeats the charge.  Patrick knows better.  After all, before he hired Jim Aloisi, surely Patrick read the guy's resume.

UPDATE 8/17: Pioneer's Charlie Chieppo makes a similar argument in today's Herald, with more evidence.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

That clanking sound you hear...

...that's the sound of the Commonwealth's budget can again bouncing down the road, having just been dealt another good kick by the Democrats who still run Congress.

Doubtless you've heard by now that Nancy Pelosi's House returned to DC this week to pass yet another spending bill - this one set up as an emergency measure to "save the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters" by sending yet more federal money to the states.  $26 billion, on top of the trillions already spent to "stimulate" the still moribund national economy.

And hey!  The measure is going to send approximately $655 million bucks right here to Massachusetts!  Lord knows we need it.  You know, to save teachers and police and firefighters and what-not.

Of course, this latest spending bill is no more about "teachers, police and firefighters" than the perennial 2-1/2 override petitions that have plagued our towns of late are about "teachers, police and firefighters."  Money is fungible.  Those particular jobs are deliberately marched out onto the plank with such predictable regularity exactly because the notion of cutting those jobs, in the abstract, is politically untenable.  Rare is the politician who wants to stand up and fight to cut funding to education and public safety.  So always with the teachers, the police and the firefighters.

In truth, this week's expectoration of federal taxpayer dollars will simply allow Massachusetts - and other states in similar financial straits - to postpone the politically difficult but necessary spending decisions that they were forced to make when it seemed that the federal funding would not be forthcoming.  Remember, these are tax dollars.  That pesky fungibility thing again. Congress is robbing Peter to pay... Deval.  And his counterparts across the country.  Out on the plank.

Here's a fun and illuminating anecdote connected with this week's spending spree:

To "pay for" its largess this week, Congress reduced future spending on the federal food stamp program.  Predictably that has a lot of people all of a dither (and it should, generally speaking - one of the true ironies of liberal budgeting is the propensity of the left to pillage from those most truly in need, on the cynical assumption that the resulting crisis will almost inevitably lead to increased overall funding down the road). 

Take careful note of the following exchange...
But the bill also requires that $12 billion be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to help fund the new bill, prompting some Democrats to cringe at the notion of cutting back on one necessity to pay for another...  [but] Democratic rank and file members, including Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, say the cuts won’t take effect until 2014 and will merely return food stamp benefits to pre-stimulus levels.
Catch that?  The protested "cut" in the food stamp program will "merely return...  benefits to pre-stimulus levels."

The uproar over that reversion might confuse the man on the street, who was given to understand that the massive spending spike called the "stimulus package" represented a temporary increase, intended to jump-start the national economy and trigger economic growth.  The truth, however, is embedded in the exchange above.  Across federal government, "stimulus" level spending has already become the norm, and any reversion to pre-stimulus budgeting is decried as a "cut."  Turns out the stimulus bill was not an injection so much as an I.V. attached to an endless flow of tax dollars.

The same is true at the state level.  Governor Patrick and the Democratic legislature have for two years now relied on federal "stimulus" dollars to plug the gaps in the state's operational budget caused by their refusal to budget within the constraints of available revenues.  When it seemed the wages of that irresponsibility were about to become due, forcing a painful but necessary return to fiscal sanity, in stepped the Congress to hook yet another bag to that federal I.V.

This latest round of federal spending will again paper over (some of) our huge and growing deficit... but it will also make things worse down the road.

UPDATE: The editors of the Boston Herald make another excellent point about the various conditions and limitations attached to the federal funds, which in effect mandate state level spending increases at a time when nearly every state ought to be cutting back:
States must spend every dime; no setting aside for a rainy day. They must increase year-over-year spending on education in order to collect. And the funds must supplement, not replace, state spending on education.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fun stuff from Red Mass Group

Posted initially on RMG (although apparently they did not create it).  Fun jab at the Cahill candidacy.  Funny because it's so true...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Retch gag puke

Look, I'm glad Governor Patrick, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray proved themselves again unable to play nice.  I'm glad the convoluted mess that emanated from the gaming conference committee on Friday night, negotiated in secret and drafted in a hurry, is not going to become law.  I'm glad I'm not going to have to find a spotted owl and chain myself and it to a tree in Milford to prevent the erection of a 'destination resort casino' in my back yard (at least for another year).

I even found myself tempted, however momentarily, to cheer the Governor this morning when he declared, righteous indignation mode operating at full power, that he was "not going to be a party to no-bid contracts for track owners," (though his indignation was more than a bit contrived, supportive as he's been of "no-bid contracts" in other contexts, like wind power for example).

Then the Gov had to go and blow it by succumbing to his natural inclination toward symbolism and sanctimony.  Here's the State House News this evening, on the Governor's amendments to the casino bill (which Speaker DeLeo has announced amount to a veto, killing the casino effort for the year):
Patrick said he'd also added amendments to the bill to ensure inclusion of minority and women business enterprises in the design, construction and operation of gambling establishments and minorities, women and people with disabilities as workers in the construction and operation of gaming establishments.
There's no telling why he stopped there, but in my humble opinion GBLT, obese and follicularly-challenged  contractors ought to be outraged at their exclusion. 

Not that I have anything against disabled minority female contractors, mind you.  What galls here is not Patrick's fondness for preferences and set-asides.  By now, that ought to be expected.  What turns the stomach and raises the bile in this instance is the putrid, craven, meaninglessness of the gesture.  Bear in mind, everyone and his brother (and sister, and disabled uncle) knows that Patrick's decision to send the casino bill back to a legislature that has packed up its belongings and gone home to campaign effectively killed the legislation dead.  Patrick's sop to the grievance caucus, then, cannot be viewed as anything other than a reach too far, transforming what his campaign no doubt wished to be viewed as a leadership moment into an all too typical pandering moment.  Par for the course for Governor Together We Can, for whom empty sentimentality has always subbed for principle and ideology.

Not that Patrick isn't well pleased with himself today.  Responding to criticisms from Charlie Baker and Treasurer Zuul, Patrick let a little bit of God complex spill out (from Boston.com): "Patrick waved off the comments. 'You know that if I walked on water, my opponents would complain that I can' t swim,' he said."

Rumors of a line of visitors carrying loaves and fishes forming outside the Governor's suite could not be confirmed by press time.

UPDATE: Ahem.