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April 27, 2005

Patrick packs Rindge and Latin

As promised, here's my run-down of Deval Patrick's speech for the Cambridge Town Democratic Committee at the Rindge & Latin High School lunchroom last night. (Incidentally, at the same event, before Patrick spoke, State Sen. Jarrett Barrios announced his intention to run for Middlesex County DA, citing the desire to work on public safety issues at the ground level. As they say, "Developing"...)

Patrick was given a nice introduction by former Cambridge mayor and now councilman Ken Reeves, who knows Patrick through a mutual friend: attesting to Patrick's personal qualities, Reeves quipped that Patrick offers "Hope and a Hug" -- and indeed before the event you could see Patrick enthusiastically and gratefully greeting several old friends who showed up. (I don't want to get all Peggy Noonan on you all, I'm just trying to give a flavor of the event.)

I suppose that David has adequately covered Patrick's basic stump speech, although I don't recall him speaking much about "No needless taxes", or his ideological label, or lack thereof. He's probably modifying his speech somewhat for his audience -- there's no question about where Cambridge Democrats lie on the ideological spectrum. I concur with David that he is a very effective speaker: comfortable, sincere, passionate but composed, very easy to listen to. (No charisma boot camp necessary for him.) It is nice to hear someone talk about the principles of community, by which we all look out for each other's best interests; and to point out the false choices that our current conventional wisdom holds: You can't have a strong economy and social justice, or excellent and universal health care. A stump speech needs to highlight the candidate's temperament more than a laundry list of positions, and Patrick does that with uncommon grace.

Just to sum up some of the rest of his speech:

  • Education: pre-K through college should be "second to none" in the nation. Why not?
  • Universal health care now. Consumers, employers, HMOs, hospitals are all unhappy with our current system. We're past due reform on this issue. (Cf. our commentary on this.)
  • Job creation: Romney was right when he said in 2002 that the Governor must be a salesman for the Commonwealth. Trouble is, Mitt can't be a credible salesman when he clearly doesn't believe in MA.

Now for the good/tough part: the questions. There were a couple of tough and pointed questions, especially regarding his tenure as Coca-Cola Company's general counsel. As you might expect from a Cambridge crowd, some of the questions were long and somewhat rambling -- I've tried to distill them to their essence. In many cases, as you'll see, I was scribbling so furiously that I missed something. Folks who were there can feel free to fill in the gaps in the comments.

  1. Concerning universal health care: What's different this time from the Clinton plan years?
    Patrick mentioned the complexity of the Clinton plan, but more to the point is that all the other players in health care, not just consumers, are dissatisfied. And even if you have insurance, it's a hassle. Patrick spoke of his recently deceased mother's difficulties with getting reimbursed for care. Single payer care is unrealistic in the short-term, but he said he's willing to spend political capital on major health care reform: "If I don't get it done in my first term, throw me out."   
  2. Question regarding violence against union members at a Coke plant in Colombia, and pollution of water in India.
    Patrick responded that the lawsuit against Coke in Miami was brought by a Colombian union which lost out to another union for the right to represent those workers at the plant. He believes that the allegations against Coke in the suit are not true, but he broke with the CEO of Coke over how to respond: Patrick wanted to settle the case to protect the brand.
  3. Big Dig: What are you going to do?
    Patrick asked rhetorically: How did we know things were wrong for so long, and yet not do anything? He worked with Bechtel on building a Coke plant in Ireland, where Bechtel tried to go over budget by 75%.
  4. Would you sign a bill to ban soft drinks in schools?
    Answer: I'll consider anything that comes to my desk. He knows obesity is a problem, but it's not just about soda and junk food: kids need to get outside. He acknowledged that whatever he said, "You will think I'm a soft drink shill. I'm not."   
  5. Should MA be a leader in the fair-trade movement, vis-a-vis treating labor fairly in the US as well?
    Patrick answered with a general comment about how little regard the business community has for Mitt Romney, and his "governing by press conference". The governor can do things to call attention to and encourage good business practice.
  6. Long and rambling question regarding foreign debt from a young Larouchite woman. (I freely admit that I did not understand the question.)
    Patrick seem unfazed by the (multi-part) question, and offered to discuss it with the woman afterwards. Points for poise, anyway.
  7. Education?
    "Early childhood education is huge." Fewer kids in the classroom. Though teenagers may disavow it, they are hungry for contact with adults. It's not just about money -- the best teachers are involved in the whole child. We have to create opportunities for that to happen.
  8. What role do community colleges have in his education plan?
    "I don't know." Recognizes that they play an important role, but wouldn't state their relative importance in the educational system.
  9. Environment in general, and wind power?
    He's been talking to advocates about what's at play. Enforcement has been decimated, as has maintenance of resources and parks. Re: Cape Wind: "Conceptually, it seems so right", but there are many sides to the issue. Eventually the various sides must be brought to compromise, but in the absence of strong leadership that won't happen. "You'll have to wait 18 months for that."
  10. Crime and gangs?
    We need to restore money for law enforcement. Make school days longer -- many crimes committed between 3pm and 5pm. But, respectfully, "I'm not running for mayor." The mayors want a partner, not someone to solve their problems for them.

Well, I hope this is useful. (Taking notes on the fly and transcribing them gives me new respect for print reporters.)

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 05:21 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Blue Mass Group has a very thorough rundown of Deval Patrick's recent speech in Cambridge. Charley even gives a blow-by-blow of the question and answer session. Here's a sample: [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 7:29:48 AM


I just want to thank you for posting this, because I wasn't able to go to the event. I've heard his stump speech, but each Q&A session is different, and it's useful to see reports.

Posted by: Cos | Apr 30, 2005 1:17:59 AM

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