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We can't afford hacks in state government

Nov. 26, 2012 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com In last week's column, I went over a few of the political rumors concerning the consequences of key elected officials in the Bay State left for the greener shores of the federal government. At the Union Station press event last week, Ray Hershel, the dean of the region's reporters, asked Gov. Deval Patrick about his plans and what he would do if the president asked him to serve in his Administration. "I'm not withholding any information. I don't know who is on what list. I know what my plans are. My plans are to finish this term and then return to the private sector, which is what I've promised my wife. In the meantime, we continue to have a very ambitious agenda we have a lot of unfinished work and I'm going to keep at it." I think this answer is pretty definitive, but we'll still see what, if anything happens, with Sen. John Kerry.
Another moment in the three -minute or so press availability – we don't get a long time – dealt with the hiring of political fundraising hack Sheila Burgess as the director of the Massachusetts Highways Safety Division. Burgess, who has no experience qualifying her for the job and as well as a terrible driving record, lost her position after she had another car accident recently. According to the Boston Globe, though, she was transferred to another job, but hopefully not at her $87,000 a year salary. When questioned about Burgess, Patrick said, "[There is] absolutely no explaining that decision . It's a screw-up. I acknowledge that." He added he wants to get to the bottom of how she was hired and who greased her skids into the land of milk of honey that is patronage jobs. This is the kind of crap that really makes me angry. With all of the scrutiny placed on how public money is being spent, how does this kind of old school back-slapping wink and a nod horse hockey manage to continue to thrive? Do we even need this office in state government? According to its official website, "The mission of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Highway Safety Division is to facilitate the development and implementation of policies, programs, and partnerships to help reduce fatalities, injuries, and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes on Massachusetts roadways." What the heck does it do to make the highways safer? This woman needs to be fired and maybe we ought to look at what this office really does besides hiring hacks and spending our dough.
A tip of the Dobbs winter hat should go to Bax and O'Brien for once again hosting the Mayflower Marathon, which this year took in more than $100,000 – a new record. Although modest about their efforts, the pair continues to make a very positive contribution to this community. The Open Pantry needs this help, but folks should remember the other emergency food services in the area as the Open Pantry only services Springfield. Please consider helping organizations such as the Community Survival Center, Lorraine's Soup Kitchen, The Parish Cupboard and Margaret's Pantry. Another tip goes to the very nice folks at Frame Corner in East Longmeadow that surprised the staff here by giving Reminder Publications a wonderful framed copy of our 50th anniversary pullout. Thanks. Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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