To Improve MBTA, State Would Raise Fees on Other Transporters

Friday, February 14, 2020

Governor Baker wants to raise tens of millions of dollars for the MBTA by hitting transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft with a five-fold increase in the state-mandated fees they charge consumers.

Currently, the Commonwealth levies a fee of 20 cents on every ride provided by one of these companies.

Baker, in his proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021), would hike that to one dollar per ride, with 70 cents going to the state and the remainder to the state's 351 cities and towns through local aid disbursements.

If the proposal, as is, gets through the legislature -- where members are already talking about a higher per-ride fee than a dollar -- Baker estimates it could generate $73 million next year for the MBTA and a variety of MassDOT projects.

Uber, Lyft, et al. are ride share market giants in Massachusetts.  They're growing faster than hothouse marijuana: In FY 2019, they provided over 81 million rides here, 25% more than the previous year.

At a State House budget hearing this past Tuesday, Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan said the total number of ride share bookings in the current fiscal year (2020) is projected to be around 98 million.  That would work out to an average of 268,493 rides per day!

Given the contributions made unavoidably by network transportation fleets to Greater Boston's spirit-crushing traffic congestion and to the greenhouse gases polluting our air, it makes sense to impose higher per-ride state fees on them to improve public transit and thereby make it better and more rider-friendly.

Given the serious harms threatening our Commonwealth because of global warming, we might want to consider additional measures impacting this industry, such as no state fees if consumers book rides with electric vehicles in these networks.

There's a selfish reason I support taking one dollar (or more!) from Uber or Lyft for every provided ride, and I should come clean about it.

One, I don't want to die under the wheels of a hired car driven by a jumpy guy whose eyes are glued to the screen of the smart phone on his dashboard, and, two, I want some of the proceeds from this fee hike used to improve safety in the passenger drop-off and pick-up areas around MBTA stations.

Particularly, I have in mind the Washington Street side of Oak Grove Station in Malden, the northern terminus of the Orange Line, where my wife picks me up after work.  It's become a jungle out there between 5:00 and 6:00 most nights.

Poor old Ralph Nader would keel over if he ever saw what defenseless pedestrians must confront nightly at Oak Grove: a unpredictable swarm of hired cars rushing to the station from all directions like nectar-crazed bees to a field of wildflowers.  These drivers seem to specialize in stopping abruptly in crosswalks and walkways, blocking and sometimes even driving against the flow of cars exiting the station, backing up and pulling out without looking, and sometimes even live-parking amidst moving traffic, then stepping out and calling helplessly to the unknown persons who summoned them.

I don't think it would take much to improve situations like this at Oak Grove and other stations. Take a big chunk of the new transportation network vehicle fees and hire police details, local or MBTA police, it doesn't matter.  Have those officers patrol on foot the pick-up/drop-off zones every other night at rush hour, with authority to issue $100-$300 citations to reckless drivers and/or drivers who create or exacerbate unsafe conditions, knowingly or not.  Word would get around fast.

Idle Speculation on a Prophecy as Romney Nears Historic Impeachment Vote

Monday, February 3, 2020

The U.S. Senate is getting ready to find President Trump innocent of the charges against him in the House articles of impeachment and all I can think of is a certain former governor of Massachusetts.

What will Mitt Romney, now a U.S. Senator from Utah, do when they call his name in the Senate roll call on impeachment this Wednesday?

I can't help but think that Mitt is giving some thought to the "White Horse Prophecy," which holds that one day the U.S. Constitution will be hanging by a thread and a member (or members) of The Church of Latter-day Saints (the "Saints") will save the nation.

The Saints officially keep the White Horse Prophecy at arms length.  But I put stock in the recollection of one of Romney's distant relatives and fellow Saints, Judith Freeman, who pointed out that the prophecy "is something every child growing up in a Mormon household in the 1950s had drilled into their heads." [OPINION: Will Mitt Romney fulfill a Mormon 'prophecy' and save the Constitution?, Los Angeles Times, 10-19-2019.]

Switching gears, let's consider what one of Romney's Republican colleagues, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said when explaining his vote with the Senate majority against calling witnesses and seeking additional evidence for Trump's Senate trial:

"The Senate reflects the country, and the country is as divided as it has been for a long time.  For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn't be on it, the country probably wouldn't accept that.  It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there.

"I think he (Trump) did something that was clearly is inappropriate for the president to ask the leader of a foreign nation to investigate a leading political rival, which the president says he did.  I think it is inappropriate at least in part to withhold aid to encourage that investigation.  But that is not treason, that is not bribery, that is not a high crime and misdemeanor." [Alexander Says Convicting Trump Would 'Pour Gasoline on Cultural Fires,' New York Times, 1-31-20.]

That same article had this comment from Senator Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska: "Lamar (Alexander) speaks for lots and lots of us."

I don't see deep enough or far enough to know whether our Constitution is hanging by a thread but it sure seems like that sacred document, the rule-of-law foundation on which rests everything that is truly great about our country, is taking a beating.

On Wednesday, I hope that Romney (and other senators) will be as concerned about the vitality of our Constitution as Alexander claims to be about the state of our culture.

Wouldn't it be something if Romney climbed aboard that white horse and voted to convict the president of abuse of power and obstructing the Congress?

Back to Alexander...

No matter how judicious, deliberative and statesmanlike Alexander seems, I am skeptical. In the above-cited Times piece, he made it known, perhaps unintentionally, how large the specter of our state's senior U.S. senator looms in his mind.

"Whatever you think of his (Trump's) behavior," Alexander said, "with the terrific economy, with conservative judges, with fewer regulations, you add in there an inappropriate call with the president of Ukraine, and you decide if you prefer him or Elizabeth Warren."

NEWS FLASH: Washington, D.C., 2:00 PM, Feb. 5.  Mitt Romney just announced that he will vote guilty later today on the first of two impeachment charges against the president.  He said, "I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made.  And for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion."

Criticized by Senator, Speaker Had Ready a Detail-Rich Rejoinder

Thursday, January 30, 2020

State Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, was at the center of an event at the State House this past Monday, Jan. 27, promoting a bill that would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the resolution of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases unless a complainant wanted an NDA.

Senate Bill 929, An Act Concerning Sexual Harassment Policies in the Commonwealth, is before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.  Senator DiZoglio and other proponents want the committee to report it out favorably by the Feb. 5 legislative deadline for doing so. 

Before she became a senator in 2019, DiZoglio served three terms in the House (2012-18), and before that she was a staffer in the House, employed in the office of Rep. Paul Adams, a Republican from Andover, who served only one term (2010-11).

DiZoglio was basically forced from her job after she and a state representative became the subject of rumors of allegedly inappropriate activity late one night in 2011 in the House chamber – rumors later proven to be false.  She got a raw deal.

As the State House News Service (SHNS) has explained, “Although an investigation by the Speaker’s office found (later) that nothing inappropriate" had occurred between DiZoglio and the representative, “DiZoglio’s boss decided that the rumors and gossip had become too much and he (Adams) asked her to find another job." 

DiZoglio reportedly sought the assistance of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office in finding temporary employment outside the legislature.  When that didn't pan out, as reported by the SHNS, DiZoglio said she “eventually decided to settle and take the small severance pay” offered to her.

Jump from 2011 to March 15, 2018.

On the House floor that day, there occurred what the SHNS described as “an emotional debate over the use of non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements in cases of sexual harassment and other workplace disputes."  It took place  because the House was considering a package of new rules governing House policies and practices on workplace sexual harassment, including a new investigatory process for harassment claims.  At the end of the debate, the House adopted the package on a unanimous 151-0 vote.  

That day, Rep.  DiZoglio stated for the first time that she had signed her departure agreement containing an NDA in 2011 “under duress.”  She also said that “…on my way out the door, I was hit with another surprise: the Speaker’s office would not release my six weeks’ severance pay unless I signed a non-disclosure agreement including a non-disparagement agreement that legally bound me from discussing what happened and from criticizing any past, present or future elected members of the House.  I hesitated for days because I did not want to sign this document.  With my money running out quickly, however, I didn’t feel I had another option, so I signed under duress.”

Now jump to the event on S.929 this past Monday at the State House.  There, DiZoglio said:

“Your Speaker lied to you and put you in a very bad position, both by unequivocally denying that he has given out NDAs for anything related to sexual harassment, when I have one from his office and my circumstances were widely publicized, leading up to my wrongful termination, and also by exploiting victims’ need for confidentiality, to convince you, during a rushed and emotional debate, to allow these agreements to continue to be used by his office and elsewhere in our government.” [Source: SHNS]

Not for the first time, DeLeo took exception to an account of events by DiZoglio. 

On Monday, the Speaker's office released a lengthy statement defending and explaining his (and the House’s) administrative actions pertaining to DiZoglio’s 2011 termination.  

The statement emphasized that “…any pressure Senator DiZoglio felt to sign the termination and severance agreement did not – and could not have – come from any House member or employee.”

The complete text of the Speaker's statement follows:

“Senator DiZoglio’s former supervisor in the House – a Republican Member of the House – unilaterally terminated Senator DiZoglio without the knowledge of the Speaker, House Human Resources, or House Counsel.

“After Senator DiZoglio was terminated by her supervisor, the House was contacted by a private attorney who represented Senator DiZoglio. The House and Senator DiZoglio’s attorney then negotiated a mutually acceptable termination and severance agreement that provided Senator DiZoglio with six weeks of severance. It is the policy of the House to provide all terminated employees with two weeks of severance, so Senator DiZoglio received an additional four weeks of severance.

“At no time did any House member or employee involved in the negotiations communicate directly with Senator DiZoglio about said negotiations. All communications were with her private attorney. As such, any pressure Senator DiZoglio felt to sign the termination and severance agreement did not—and could not have—come from any House member or employee involved in the negotiations.

“It is also important to point out that at no time, either during her employment with the House or after her termination from the House, did Senator DiZoglio or her private attorney ever allege that she had been a victim of sexual harassment until March of 2018, when Sen. DiZoglio made her experience public.

“Over the past three years, the House took decisive action and immediately ordered an in-depth review of the House’s human resources function. As a result of that study, the House adopted a set of comprehensive human resources reforms including the creation of a new, independent Equal Employment Opportunity Officer (EEO) to ensure a professional working environment for all employees and visitors to the House.

“House rules also now include a process for executing any legal agreements by the House including a stringent process for executing ‘any agreement to settle any legal claim or potential legal claim of sexual harassment, or retaliation based on a legal claim or potential legal claim of sexual harassment, by any current or former member, officer or employee.’ See House Rule 100. 

"House Rule 100 states that ‘[n]o member, officer or employee shall execute any agreement to settle a legal claim or potential legal claim of sexual harassment, or retaliation based on a legal claim or potential legal claim of sexual harassment, by any current or former member, officer or employee unless:

1. the request to negotiate said agreement was initiated, in writing, by the person filing or eligible to file the legal claim or potential legal claim or a person legally authorized to represent that person;

2. the person filing the legal claim or eligible to file the legal claim is given 15 days to review and consider the agreement;

3. the duration of any non-disclosure or non-disparagement provision of the agreement to settle the legal claim or potential legal claim is for a finite period of time as agreed to by the parties;

4. the agreement to settle the legal claim or potential legal claim specifically provides that no provision of the agreement, including any non-disclosure or non-disparagement provision of the agreement, shall preclude any party from participating in an investigation by Counsel, the Director, the EEO Officer, a Committee on Professional Conduct or any law enforcement agency; and

5. the agreement is approved in writing by Counsel, the Director and the EEO Officer.’

“The restrictions on the use of agreements to settle a legal claim or potential legal claim of sexual harassment or retaliation are based on best practices informed by experts in the field including the National Association to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), Pathways to Change and the Boston Rape Crisis Center.

“As for agreements executed by the House prior to the rules reform in 2018, none were to settle complaints of sexual harassment, but rather a formalized process for providing terminated employees with a modest severance benefit.

“Currently, the House employs approximately 480 people (not including members). Since January 1, 2010 through today, more than 1,040 employees have concluded their employment with the House of Representatives. Of those, approximately 155 had their employment terminated by the House (or separated from employment in some way other than a voluntary resignation). Of those 155 employees, approximately 33 individuals (3 percent of all those concluding their employment with the House during this period) were offered a small severance payment in exchange for executing a written agreement containing a nondisclosure agreement. Of these 33 agreements, 15 agreements were executed with employees who were laid off as part of a reduction in force in December 2009. These agreements were included because, while the layoffs took effect in 2009, the severance for the affected employees continued until early January. The House has not executed an agreement with any current or former employee that contains a non-disclosure agreement since the adoption of House Rule 100.”

It Happens in Massachusetts Politics That...

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

It happens in Massachusetts politics these marvelously snow-free days of January that...

Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the pride of Medford, Massachusetts, has a much better sense of humor than his dour mien suggests, as demonstrated in this Bernie put-down he delivered the other day during a Florida campaign stop: "Now, I know I'm not the only Jewish candidate in the race.  But I am the only one who doesn't want to turn America into a kibbutz."

David Sweeney, chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, is leaving to become president and chief executive of MASCO, the Medical, Academic and Scientific Community Organization, which serves the powerhouses of the city's Longwood medical and academic neighborhood.

Holyoke's four-term state rep, Aaron M. Vega, has announced he will not be running for re-election this fall, and though he didn't say why he decided to leave the House or what he plans to do afterwards, every time a Western MA legislator calls it quits, I can't help but think those long commutes to the State House have to be a factor.

Former Governor Michael Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, have endorsed Ed Markey for re-election to the U.S. Senate in his contest vs. Joseph P. Kennedy, III, and have released a video explaining why they believe Ed deserves to hold onto his seat.

U.S. Rep. and Iraq war hero Seth Moulton has endorsed Joe Biden for president, shunning the two Bay State Dems in the race, Elizabeth Warren, and former Governor Deval Patrick.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a longtime Harvard Law School faculty colleague of Alan Dershowitz, professed to be confused by Dershowitz's defense of President Donald Trump at the impeachment trial this week, declaring, "I truly could not follow it."

Dershowitz wasted no time shooting back at Warren for not digging his Trump defense speech, tweeting, in part, "...Warren claims she could not follow my carefully laid out presentation that everybody else seemed to understand.  This says more about Warren than it does about me."

Governor Charlie Baker's proposed bill to reorganize the Massachusetts State Police got an unexpected lift this past Friday when David Andrade, a former State Police lieutenant, was arraigned on charges related to his allegedly collecting paid time-off  benefits, including for a spell when he was supposedly on a cruise to Bermuda. Talk about mailing it in.

Meanwhile, Charlie Baker's political godfather, former Governor Bill Weld, continues to have great difficulty in his GOP primary struggle against President Trump, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Republican bigwigs in New York doubt that Weld will even qualify for the April 28 primary ballot there.

Matthew Helman, one of three candidates in next Tuesday's (Feb. 4) Democratic primary election for the 32nd Middlesex District seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (Melrose/Wakefield/Malden), is pledging to vote no on re-electing Robert DeLeo House Speaker should Helman make it to the State House as a legislator.  Other Democrats in this primary are Kate Lipper-Garabedian and Ann McGonigle Santos.  Whoever wins on Feb. 4 is guaranteed to win the final election in March because no Republicans are seeking the seat, which became vacant when Paul Brodeur resigned this past November, having been elected (and immediately seated) as mayor of Melrose.

The late Christopher Walsh, D-Framingham, who died of cancer in 2018 while serving his fourth term in the Massachusetts House, will achieve a bit of immortality next month when The Chris Walsh Center for Educators and Families of Metro West will be dedicated at Framingham State University.  An architect by profession, Walsh was one of the most popular and well-liked legislators I ever saw.  

His Mighty Deeds for GOP Forgotten, Weld Needed Dem to Get on Ballot Here

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

With dignity and utter seriousness, Mayflower descendant William F. Weld soldiers on, Quixote-like, in his doomed quest to take the Republican nomination for president from Donald Trump.  The man who began and made possible a long reign of Republican governors in a state dominated by Democrats remains overlooked by the media and dismissed by the mass of Republicans, in Massachusetts and around the nation.  The Trump-drunk legions heap scorn upon him.  No matter: Weld's stature as a human being is now in inverse proportion to the size of his political prospects.

In the Massachusetts presidential primary election on March 3, 2020, Weld's name will appear on the Republican ballot, along with that of Trump and Joseph Walsh, a former Illinois congressman and Tea Party darling.  Weld owes that accomplishment to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, who exercised his right under state law -- in the case of Weld and others -- to put a candidate on the presidential primary ballot if that candidate is "generally advocated or recognized in national news media throughout the United States."

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Republican Party, in accordance with state election law,  submitted its list of credible Republican presidential primary candidates to Secretary Galvin.  That list had only one name on it, President Donald J. Trump.

Jim Lyons, former Republican rep from Andover and current Republican Party chair, said in his submission letter to Galvin that "Having a sitting President as the only name on the potential candidate list is not unprecedented, and is in fact, an established procedure."  In that letter, Lyons also said:

"As you are certainly aware, according to your office's own archives, during an incumbent presidency neither political party has submitted names other than that of the incumbent, first-term president.  We will follow set protocol and do the same, as has been done in 2012 under Democratic President Barack Obama and in 2004 under Republican President George W.  Bush."

Such an explanation seemed intended by Lyons to inoculate himself against complaints that he was being unfair and/or disrespectful to Weld, an Olympian figure, a certifiable hero, in the history of the Republican Party of Massachusetts, and, not for nothing, the person who brought current Republican Governor Charlie Baker into public life in 1991 and who inspired Baker to run for governor himself (unsuccessfully in 2010 and successfully in 2014 and 2018).

Weld is truly Baker's political godfather.  The two share a deep respect and affection.  It must have pained Baker to see his mentor slighted by their own party's hierarchy.  Then again Baker has had his own difficulties with Lyons, a natural contrarian.

Lyons has a gift for making enemies almost equal to that of 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas whose campaign in Massachusetts campaign Lyons headed.

Lyons may take refuge behind the cool reasoning of his Galvin letter. Political observers know better: Lyons can't stand Weld and is eager to stomp on his presidential dreams.  The letter also gave Lyons an opportunity to demonstrate to Trump that his days as a Cruz acolyte are far in the past and that Trumpism is now his heartfelt creed.

Question: Does Trump love anything more than when a former foe goes all Lindsey Graham on him and turns lapdog?  (When Lyons ran for chair of the party in January, 2019, the Trump administration was on record as favoring his opponent in that race, Brent Anderson.)

On Feb. 15, 2019, Weld announced he was running for the GOP presidential nomination. Before the sun set on that short winter day, Lyons had issued a statement predicting that "his (Weld's) self-seeking ploy to divide Republicans will fail." He added:

"Weld is the same ex-Republican who deserted Massachusetts for New York; who endorsed President Barack Obama over John McCain for President; who renounced the GOP for the Libertarian Party; who ran against the Trump-Pence ticket in 2016, while cozying up to Democrat Hillary Clinton.  After abandoning Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians, Weld demands that faithful Republicans consider him as their standard bearer.  Even Benedict Arnold switched allegiances less often!  We Republicans will put partisanship aside, reach across the aisle to Democrats and Libertarians, and reject Bill Weld."

During his time in the House (2011-18), Lyons had more than his share of enemies.  They included a significant percentage of the small contingent of House Republicans and of House Republican staff members.  That 2/15/19 statement reminded me why. Lyons always had the knife out.  Give him this: he has a flair for political invective, and speech of that nature is often exciting/entertaining.

If Lyons's slashes and the skirmishes around the primary ballot bothered Weld, there's scant sign of him countering the blows or complaining.  That's another thing to admire in our former governor: he almost always greets the pain of politics with bemused silence or light-hearted rejoinders.

Minimum Wage Earners Will Be Toasting the New Year, Though Not with Champagne

Friday, December 27, 2019

There are 400,000-plus Massachusetts persons who have good reasons to be looking with eager eyes to the new year.

These are the folks who, slugging it out every day at minimum wage jobs, will be getting a legally mandated increase in their hourly pay, from $12.00 to $12.75, as of Wednesday, Jan. 1.

A minimum wage earner who works 40 hours a week will thus see her weekly before-tax earnings jump by $30, or $1,560 for the entirety of 2020.

Grossing $30 more a week may not sound exciting to most of us.

But for those at the bottom of the pay ladder, that thirty bucks is a big deal -- perhaps even the difference between making their rent on Feb. 1 or facing eviction, homelessness and all the sorrow and indignities that involves.

In 2018, the Massachusetts legislature passed, and Governor Charlie Baker signed into law, a bill that is, in five yearly increments of 75 cents, hiking the minimum wage to $15.00 by Jan. 1, 2023.  (The first of those increases took place on Jan. 1 of this year.)

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a non-profit that advocated long and hard for the $15 minimum wage law, earlier this month produced a helpful analysis of the impact of the imminent increase to $12.75, which showed that:

  • 420,600 workers statewide will be getting this raise
  • Cumulatively, it will be putting $410 million more in people's paychecks over the course of the year
  • 45% of workers getting the raise are employed in food services, and 25% in retail 
  • Among those benefitting here, 89% are adults, 40% are persons of color, 60% are women, and 79% have at least a high school education

In a Dec. 23 press release, Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, said, "This planned increase in the minimum wage will make it easier for our lowest paid workers to make ends meet.  Though, more still needs to be done to ensure that in a high-cost state like ours, we can achieve a truly inclusive economy that works for everyone."

The Center points out that Massachusetts is one of several states that will see an increase in the minimum wage in the New Year, and that California and Washington state will have higher hourly rates than Massachusetts, at $13.00 and $13.50, respectively, as will the nation's capital, the District of Columbia, where workers are already earning $14 an hour and will get a raise to $15 on July 1, 2020.

When I toast the New Year next Tuesday night, I'm going raise at least one glass to a "truly inclusive economy" and ponder the dumb luck that has spared me from every having to get by on only the minimum wage.  

To view the analysis cited above, go to Click on "Research Areas," click on "All Reports," then click on "Impact of the Increase in the Massachusetts Minimum Wage to $12.75".

It Says Here 'Teflon Charlie' Won't Seek a Third Term

Thursday, December 19, 2019

If the careers of successful governors in recent times are a reliable guide -- and I believe they are -- Charlie Baker would be an odds-on favorite to win a third consecutive term if he sought re-election in 2022.

Item: Smart Politics reported back in March of 2017 that "Governors seeking their third consecutive four-year terms have won nine elections in a row since 1994 and 20 of 24 dating back to 1970."

Since taking office in January of 2015, our governor has maintained a remarkably high level of popularity with the electorate, polling early on as the most popular governor in the nation.

Back then, many professional pollsters and political know-it-all's predicted that Baker's approval rating would inevitably, swiftly tumble.

Boy, were they wrong.

Two months ago, for example, 73% of registered Massachusetts voters approved of the job Baker is doing in a Morning Consult poll.  The Boston Globe article (10-17-19) on that poll appeared under this headline:

Teflon Charlie: Baker sky-high popularity holds amid RMV scandal, T troubles

Baker's finishing the first year of his second term and he has not ruled out running again. Based solely on gut instinct, I believe this term will be his last.

My reasons are like me: simple and obvious.

First, Baker will be 66 years old in 2022 and it will be time for him to make some serious money again... because, one, he can, and, two, he'd be crazy not to maximize his earnings then for the sake of himself, his wife, their children, and their children's future children.  As governor, Baker earns $185,000 a year.  For an indication of what he could be earning, look at what he made as chief executive of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care: well over a million dollars a year during his final years there.

Two, Baker will be pretty tired by 2022 of working as hard as he does at being governor, of dealing with the endless frustrations of running the vast state bureaucracy -- How would you like to "own" the MBTA and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, not to mention the Department of Children & Families? -- and of feeling, in his heart of hearts, that he is not sufficiently appreciated for the caliber of his intelligence, the depth of his knowledge and experience, and the squeaky cleanness of his ethics.   Try as he does to conceal it, and to present as just "one of the guys" in public, Baker is almost always the smartest human being in the room.  Three years from now, I say his ability to suffer fools gladly will have been totally exhausted.

There's going to be a hell of an election for governor of Massachusetts in 2022, a race that will likely see Charlie Baker campaigning dutifully hard for his lieutenant governor and mutual admirer, Karyn Polito, versus our attorney general (and also Baker's mutual admirer and fellow Harvard alum), Maura Healey.  Let the fundraising begin!