Thursday, February 15, 2007

Deval Patrick and Local Government

Two days, two prominent articles about Deval Patrick's big plans. Interestingly enough, they're both about Deval's plans for local governments - but, to many, they may seem somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand, Deval wants to give towns more tax freedom and ability to decide how municipalities will fund their many important services and functions. On the other hand, Deval's wants to hold towns and cities responsible for their individual pension selection.

So what's the answer to solving the state's Beacon Hill-municipality divide? More freedom or more oversight? Is there really even one answer to the question, or does Deval Patrick see the need for both in different capacities? His recent proposal would suggest the ladder. However, regardless of his proposals, there's no doubt a very real problem exists in this state. Just like individuals sometimes can't handle situations alone, be it from disaster or a continuous series of unfortunate events, sometimes towns and cities get stuck in goo they can't get out of on their own. Sometimes, they're newly constructed high schools sink.

Now cities and towns just have to figure out how to get out of that goo. While there are no easy answers, there is one thing Massachusetts should know that's a fact: the status quo isn't working. Deval Patrick's recent proposals may either be wholly inadequate to address the problems or could even exacerbate them, but at least they're a start. At least they attempt to address real problems, instead of allowing the state to remain in blissful ignorance.

The fact that Deval Patrick is really serious about changing the dynamic of government should be applauded by all, regardless of whether or not we individually agree with his proposals. It has been long since a governor has been this bold. While Deval has kept a relatively low profile as governor so far, his policy proposals are down-right revolutionary. Whether the revolution will be good or bad will be decided in the history books - but, at least we know there's now going to be a chapter called "Deval Patrick's Bay State Revolution."

Perhaps, in the end, what municipalities need is more capacity to address their own, unique problems - but live with the added responsibility that comes with it. Throughout history, many people have viewed towns and cities as children of the state. It seems as though Deval Patrick thinks the toddler stage is over; the only way to grow up is to gain responsibility. However, he doesn't appear to think localities are quite ready for the keys to the car yet, either. So, if any towns or cities come home past curfew - no phone privileges for a week! Well, that all depends on whether or not his proposals can get through Beacon Hill's vacuum - the one that sucks up all the good ideas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now you can see what the Republicans have been up against. The Democrats on Beacon Hill sucking ... up the good ideas.

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