A scant two weeks after Deval Patrick got to savor his friend Barack Obama’s reelection, a victory in which he played an important role, the Massachusetts Governor has returned to his administration’s realities on the ground. And the headlines aren’t pretty.
It wasn’t bad enough that his administration, especially his public health officials and human services secretary, failed abysmally in their responsibilities to oversee the state drug lab and to raise concerns about laxity in procedures of compounding pharmacies. The drug lab debacle may result in tens of thousands of criminals returning to the streets, evidence of their wrong-doing tossed out. The compounding pharmacy malfeasance has caused 32 deaths nationwide from meningitis and many more people made critically ill. Even the U.S. Congress is investigating that outrage.
There are other stories suggesting the Governor has been asleep at the switch, or at least away from the controls. The new head of the MBTA, Beverly Scott, seems to have been hired from Atlanta without adequate vetting. Apparently her term there was one, as the Boston Globe put it, of “deep fiscal trouble” and a clinically dysfunctional relationship with the board of the Atlanta transit system. Massachusetts reportedly recruited her without any knowledge of her checkered performance there. She started at the beleaguered MBTA this week. Hang onto your seats.
On Monday, the Governor was forced to remove one Sheila Burgess from her post as state highway safety director. That, after discovering her shocking record of multiple car crashes, speeding violations, citations for failures to stop and another for not wearing a seat belt. Those were her sole experiences in the field of public safety. All she had to recommend her for the job was her background in Democratic Party politics, from raising funds for the late, beloved Congressman Joe Moakley, to campaigns with Congressman Jim McGovern, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray (they obviously share some questionable driving history), John Kerry, and, according to the Boston Herald, Brian Joyce, Tim Cahill and Chris Gabrielli.
It seems that, with all the headiness of the successful national Presidential campaign for the last two years, Deval Patrick, like Icarus, may have been flying too close to the sun. He is not halfway through his second term and desperately needs to take charge and tend to business. He has steadfastly maintained that he, unlike certain of his predecessors, will complete his two terms rather than leave early to go to Washington (perhaps as Attorney General.) It’s not too late for him to reinforce his charisma with a practical executive attention to details, delegation and accountability and, in two more years, leave office on a high note, fulfilling the hopes of many still enthusiastic supporters believing that “together we can.”
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