Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meanwhile, In Massachusetts State Government - April 5, 2012

(All blurbs from the State House News Service, unless otherwise specified).


Then again, it may not

Attorney General Martha Coakley's indictment Monday of ex-treasurer Tim Cahill on charges that he misspent taxpayer money adds to a list of criminal complaints against Beacon Hill power brokers that may present a years-long headache for Massachusetts Democratic leaders.
It bothers me, this festering cynicism... but I've long ago stopped expecting the Massachusetts electorate to react appropriately to this kind of thing. Sadly, it has become our 'normal.'

Front-Runner for 2012's "Worth A Thousand Words" Award:


AP Photo, via Boston.com

First Step: Build a Team of Rivals

Concord native and former U.S. Army captain Joe Kearns Goodwin announced plans to run for the Senate seat that Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln) is relinquishing. A former elected member of the Concord Democratic Town Committee, Goodwin helped run Rep. Cory Atkins' first successful campaign for state representative, served in the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, and worked in General Electric's steam and wind turbine divisions before he was recalled to serve in Afghanistan in 2008, spending a year there. According to a press release announcing his candidacy, Goodwin, 34, is a graduate of Harvard College and his father Richard was an advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and his mother Doris is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian.

Next year's hottest crop? Solar panels and windmills.

The Patrick administration on Tuesday simultaneously announced that Agriculture Commissioner Scott Soares is leaving for a post with the Cranberry Marketing Committee and that Gregory Watson of Falmouth has been sworn in as his replacement... Watson has worked as senior advisor for clean energy technology in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs since 2007... He was a volunteer member of President Obama's 2008 energy transition team and currently served on the board of the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative.
Look for the green label... and never mind the
metal and glass and wires and stuff.
Sounds like a natural for the post of Agriculture Commissioner - no wonder the Administration was in such a hurry to swear him in. Kidding aside, farmland across the Commonwealth is being viewed by subsidy-hungry developers as prime real estate for industrial-scale renewable energy generation facilities, causing no small amount of agita among residents of currently rural neighborhoods who find themselves suddenly torn between general support of all things "green" and understandable resistance to proposals to install power plants in their bucolic back yards. It doesn't seem too outlandish to suppose that a fellow with Mr. Watson's particular pedigree may have been tapped to accelerate that trend.

Define "irony"

A six-member conference committee negotiating legislation aimed at improving transparency and accountability in state government is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. in Room 511. Chief House conferee Rep. Peter Kocot confirmed the meeting Tuesday and said it would be closed.
The tactic is clear here - and it is brilliant. Clearly the conference committee crafting legislation "aimed at improving transparency and accountability" is using the Costanza technique. They are doing the opposite! Transparency through opacity - they cannot fail.



Speaking of the opposite...

Gov. Deval Patrick defended President Barack Obama's handling of the economy on Tuesday morning, blaming a "sclerosis" in Congress for impeding the president's ability to make the type of investments that have been successful in Massachusetts.
I don't want to interrupt the Governor in the middle of yet another redefinition of reality, but nit-pickers might note that in at least one area President Obama made precisely the same "type of investment" as Governor Patrick made in Massachusetts - with precisely the same results!


Anytime you hear these words, grab your wallet

Impatient Senate leaders circumvented a House-controlled committee and blindsided colleagues Tuesday by scheduling consideration later this week of first-in-the nation legislation to force auto manufacturers to reveal additional repair data to body shops and aftermarket parts dealers.
In no other context does the law of unintended consequences apply with more force than when the words "Massachusetts" and "first in the nation" come together to describe some new piece of regulation. P.S. I still don't understand what the bill does, but at least if it passes those radio ads will finally end for good. (Hey! I used that "law of unintended consequences" line a year ago! I'm as bad as the president!)

I'm betting it isn't buried all that deep...

Gov. Deval Patrick hinted Tuesday that a partial solution to the state's long-term transportation funding needs could be buried deep within the tax code. While discussing with business leaders the state's infrastructure funding needs and what he described as a reflexive impulse among elected officials to reject new taxes, Patrick began to describe the "fascinating" work being done by the an independent "Tax Expenditure Commission" currently reviewing the state's $26 billion slate of annual tax breaks, incentive programs and deductions.

Least surprising decision ever

After 17 months of review, state regulators on Wednesday announced their approval of the merger between utility giants NSTAR and Northeast Utilities.
Who so unsurprising? Read this and this and this. The "state regulators" might as well have been carrying lengths of pipe and wearing brass knuckles.


Here's a tip: Don't sleep on stone steps

Legislators who haul around a year’s worth of paperwork beware. A group of occupational therapy graduate students set up in the State House Thursday morning, with presentations and tips on just how much a single person should carry around.
By sheer coincidence:
This evening, Occupy the MBTA, a working group of Occupy Boston, launched Camp Charlie, a ten day occupation of the State House steps to protest fare-hikes and service cutbacks on the MBTA. -- OccupyBoston "press advisory."
If ever there were a crew in need of some occupational therapy... (and isn't "a working group of Occupy Boston" kind of an oxymoron?)

 

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