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July 12, 2005

Continuing with our all-Deval coverage

As promised, here is my take on Deval Patrick's conference call with Charley, Bob, and me this morning.  I solemnly swear that I haven't read either Bob's or Charley's post.

The short version is this: Deval has a convincing and - dare I say it - inspiring vision both of why he is in this race and of what he will do if he wins.  He is extremely articulate and well-informed on a wide range of issues; he is not afraid to say things that he knows will irk some people and probably even lose him a few votes; and yet he comes across neither as an overbearing know-it-all nor as a politician staking out a position for the sake of staking out a position, but rather as someone who truly believes that government can serve the people of this Commonwealth better than it's been doing for the last bunch of years.  I was impressed.  There's lots more below the fold.

I started by asking why Deval was bothering to reach out so directly to folks like us.  He responded that he is consciously running "a different kind of campaign."  He said that he has seen many good people give up on politics because all they see is the screaming heads at the two extremes, and they're just tired of it.  He wants to invite people back into their government.  And here is a quote I really like: he wants to give people a stake not only in their own dreams, but also in the dreams of their neighbors.  That is reminiscent to me of Amitai Etzioni's communitarian ideas which I have always found appealing in many ways, though I don't know whether Deval has been influenced by that particular school of thought (I wasn't clever enough to draw the connection while we were on the phone). 

All of which is to say that Deval is running not only a money-raising insider-endorsement-garnering operation which, as he recognizes, is a necessity these days, but also a true grassroots operation that he expects to be capable of reaching voters in every precinct in the state, and through which he hopes to re-engage those voters who have given up on politics.  And he knows that the internet is a powerful tool to reach not only activists, but also citizens who get their news and information from someone other than Peter Jennings or (worse) Brit Hume.  So reaching out to the blog crowd fits comfortably within that overall strategy.  Relatedly, he said that he expects to have a campaign blog and perhaps other internet resources up and running on his website by the fall.

Later in the conversation I asked about Massachusetts voters' apparent penchant for divided government.  Deval responded that people may like divided government but they don't like stalemate (I didn't press him on whether you can really have "stalemate" when the legislature has veto-proof majorities in both houses).  He said that we have had basically no motion on a lot of key issues on which the Commonwealth's future depends - a backsliding economy; declining population; a huge venture capital industry that doesn't invest here; and a public education system that on the elementary and secondary levels has improved but is not consistently excellent, and on the higher education level ranks near the bottom nationally.  He said that we can stay the course and stick with what we've been doing with either a Republican or a Democratic Governor, but if that's what you want, he's not your guy.  I asked whose guy he is.  He said he plans to run as a Democrat but govern as a statesman, seeking out the best people and ideas regardless of party, and he plans to advance an ambitious agenda to make Massachusetts the best place to live, work, and go to school.  If that's what you want, he said, then he's your guy.

We also talked about some "issues."  Here they are:

Jobs and Housing.  Bob asked about Deval's accomplishments in increasing minority homeownership while in the Clinton Justice Department, and whether they might translate into strategies for Massachusetts.  Deval thought that they would.  He spoke of the importance of access to capital, which was a major focus of his work at DoJ - in particular, getting lenders to focus on risk rather than using inaccurate proxies for risk that ended up shutting out entire neighborhoods and making it unreasonably difficult for, say, single parents to get favorable loans.  He emphasized that access to capital is also essential for small and medium businesses, which create the vast majority of jobs.  He mentioned an innovative federal program called the Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) Program which he would like to replicate on the state level - essentially, SBIC partners with private venture capital firms and uses federal low-interest loans and loan guarantees to increase the amount of venture capital available to entrepreneurs.  It strikes me as an excellent example of how government can do something really useful - create jobs - not by increasing the size of the public sector, but by helping the private sector work better.  It's the kind of thing a creative public servant would try to bring to this state.

Health Care.  Charley, our resident health care wonk, asked about his favorite subject, namely, the relative virtues of individual mandates, state-sponsored reinsurance, stripped-down low-cost health insurance packages, and the expansion of MassHealth.  Deval ran screaming from the room.  No, just kidding, that was actually me.  (Kidding again - I stayed.)  I suspect that Charley will have more detail on this (of course I don't know for sure, since I haven't read his post), but the short version is that Deval sees the current health care crisis as an opportunity to address a problem that has been kicking around for a long time.  And he sees three essential aspects, each of which must be addressed by any solution that has any chance of actually working: (1) access, with universal care being the endgame, though he would accept incremental steps in the right direction; (2) cost control, since our current >15% annual increases cannot be sustained indefinitely; and (3) quality, since people are tired of paying for more but getting less.  He sees things he likes in all the proposals currently floating around (for example, he said that state reinsurance is an intriguing cost-cutting idea that has been around for a long time), and he promised that there's much more to come on this as he hammers out policy positions over the summer.  He also made an interesting point about the whole health care debate, which is that some terms get used very differently by different people, which leads to confusion and misunderstanding.  He noted in particular that the term "single payer" to some means that the government pays for everything (like the UK or Canada), but to others it means a single clearinghouse to which all providers would submit their bills, thereby (hopefully) dramatically cutting down on their administrative expenses.

Of course, health care solutions are all expensive, so Charley asked about taxes.  And Deval said, as he has said consistently, that he thinks taxes must be kept on the table as an option, though hopefully as a last resort.  He said - and I thought this really made sense - that part of what he needs to do as a candidate is figure out whether people really think that this issue is as important as they seem to.  If they do, then they will be willing to talk seriously about what it will take to craft a solution, and that conversation just has to include additional revenues.

Big Dig.  Charley asked about improving oversight of public construction projects.  This time Deval really did almost leave the room (he cracked a joke about having just run out of time).  He said that government owes the citizens a duty to ensure that tax dollars are spent effectively and responsibly, and that the fact that the Big Dig is only now being investigated is a serious problem.  He said that a more active and engaged government, and (in his only real dig at Tom Reilly) a more active and engaged Attorney General, would have acted much sooner.  He noted that when he was at Coca-Cola he oversaw a lawsuit against Bechtel for cost overruns on a project in Ireland; that Coke had never before challenged their contractors in this way; and that ultimately Coke recovered.  He said he was willing to make enemies in this regard.

To sum up: He's got the goods.  Back in April, right after Deval announced that he was running, I went to hear him speak to the Lexington Democratic Town Committee, and I had this to say:

He is not bombastic or preachy, but he speaks with eloquence and with a sort of understated yet deeply-felt passion that is nice to hear.  He's also genuinely funny.

I'll stick with that today.  Deval has a vision of his campaign and a message that I think will resonate with a lot of Massachusetts voters - not just the "progressives" or the "liberals" or the "activists," but everyone who wants not to hate politics and politicians.  He's also plenty charismatic, and plenty smart.  Can he raise the money he needs to get that message out there?  Can he overcome Tom Reily's substantial fundraising advantage?  Will the voters of Massachusetts respond to a "different kind of campaign"?  Stay tuned.

Posted by David at 11:59 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Deval Patrick, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Massachusetts, began a series of interviews with bloggers yesterday. He spoke with .08 Acres (and a Donkey) and Blue Mass. Group. (The three writers at BMG - Bob, Charley, and [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 13, 2005 10:54:25 AM


Please look into the question of Boston City Council
. stenographic machine output
. the unedited stenographic transcript of the machine

Ellen Fritch Associates are the publicly funded council
stenographic services.

The stenographic machine output and unedited stenographic
transcript are used to prepare the all too spare council
minutes that appear at

The too brief minutes can not be interpreted readily by
citizens interested in the proceedings and transactions
of the council.

The council staff director, city clerk and
assistant city clerk are overhanded, inquisitorial and
intimidate when receiving enquiries about the council

No cross index of docket numbers is readily available.

Council minutes may meet minimum legal requirements
but are not robust enough to make transparent what
transpired during public meetings.

Council staff director Ann Hess,
city clerk Rosaria Salerno and
the Assistant city clerk are in denial about
matters related to making the council a more
transparent organizational culture.

The unedited stenographic transcript of the machine
output needs to be readily available.

An index cross referencing docket numbers needs to be
made readily available at

Posted by: don warner saklad | Jul 13, 2005 6:53:19 AM

"He is extremely articulate..."
David, isn't that another way to say he doesn't alk likme a n%g$#r?

"someone who truly believes that government can serve the people of this Commonwealth better than it's been doing for the last bunch of years. I was impressed."
Why? Beause he was articulate. This line is not new, by any means.
"..and making it unreasonably difficult for, say, single parents to get favorable loans."
I know this is an example, but it is not about single parents in low income neighborhoods getting loans. It is about them getting low end jobs that still alow them to feed there family and have affordable day care. - But i digress.
SBIC - Big deal. There have alweays been state back programs to encourage private developemnt which is what venture funfds do. Not new!

"..agenda to make Massachusetts the best place to live, work, and go to school."
Wow! Never heard that before.
Reily was sujing the Big dig contractors but rhe gave it toi romney. nothing new there.

My problem is not with Patrick. It is with you guys falling in love with him and yet he hasbn't given details nor does he hacve arecord showing the ability to move legislation, which is what is going to be necessary to be a sucessful governor.
Instead he is being sold like a bottle of coke and you guys are gobbling it up.
He gave you an interview. Big Deal
You sound more like a fan club then anythingh else

Posted by: The troll | Jul 13, 2005 3:43:54 PM

Okay, people do use single-payer in different ways, and they often get it wrong. It's important to note that the UK has a nationalize health service where the government owns the hospitals. Canada has a single payer system where the provinces pay for medical care, but the doctors are independent. (They don't necessarily cover everything. In some provinces abortion is not covered.)

I am not a health care policy expert, but I have never heard of anyone use the term to describe "a single clearinghouse to which all providers would submit their bills." I'm not even sure what that means in practice.

Posted by: Abby | Jul 13, 2005 5:00:59 PM

"My problem is not with Patrick. It is with you guys falling in love with him and yet he hasn't given details nor does he have a record showing the ability to move legislation, which is what is going to be necessary to be a successful governor."

Troll, that is a fair point. Who among the current candidates has "the ability to move legislation"? Who has given details of what they plan to do? Romney? Reilly? Galvin? Gosh, at the convention, Galvin was so vague he made Patrick sound like an IRS form by comparison. Reilly was not exactly forthcoming either, and I haven't seen anything in the press that indicates otherwise. And ol' PowerPoint Mitt ... well, we know about him and his allergy to details.

(I confess I don't know Galvin's legislative record, and there's not much from his bio:

So you've got a fair challenge, and I think we all pushed him on that a little bit. But really, there's nothing one can point to unless you've already governed something, or been a lawmaker. He's got a record -- it just doesn't happen to be in the legislative sphere.

I would ask the same kinds of questions of Reilly or Galvin: Which health care plan do you support? What about greater oversight for construction projects? They would have something to say about it, but I don't know that it would be necessarily more "real world" or credible than Patrick.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Jul 13, 2005 5:18:34 PM

Troll, I have neither the time nor the inclination (my favorite phrase today, apparently) to respond to each of your comments. Let me choose just a couple. First, as to whether Patrick is "extremely articulate": he's extremely articulate. I don't care what fucking color he is. Second, as to the fact that he hasn't given a bunch of details, aren't you the one who has repeatedly said that candidates need not and should not post policy positions on their websites because it just lets opponents get out the artillery early? You had actually convinced me of that, but now you want details? I'm confused. Third, no record moving legislation? So what. Outsider candidates almost by definition never have records of moving legislation. If you want a candidate with a record of moving legislation, why not Tommy Finneran? Finally, does he have a couple of stock-sounding campaign sound-bite phrases? Sure. Show me a candidate who doesn't.

If Tom Reilly or Bill Galvin wants to have a conference call with us, we'll be delighted. I've already sent Reilly an invitation.

Posted by: David | Jul 13, 2005 9:03:27 PM

"Who among the current candidates has "the ability to move legislation"? Who has given details of what they plan to do? Romney? Reilly? Galvin? Gosh, at the convention, Galvin was so vague he made Patrick sound like an IRS form by comparison. Reilly was not exactly forthcoming either, and I haven't seen anything in the press that indicates otherwise. And ol' PowerPoint Mitt ... well, we know about him and his allergy to detail."

Exactly Charley. So you agree. Show me the details or something special about Patrick. You haven't. Instead this blog becomes "TigerBeat" Magazine and Patrick is the cover boy. I may stary calling him David Cassidy.
And Charley, it is a bad argument to make me defend his opponnents. By pointing out my problems with Patrick and more specifically the love-in you are having with Patrick does not mean I support the other candidates. That is closed minded thinking.
By the way, Galvin is one to watch. he will make announcement in fall when people pay attention, til then he is only const. officer doing his job with not huge fanfare. Financial institution prosecution, and n ow Gillette. And he is most politically astute candidate mentiuoned so far. Has baggage though

David, my point is not patrick, it is your immediate embrace of him. You are a lawyer, don't you want to take a wait and see attitude. What makes this guy so great? What makes him head and shoulders above the others? I don't see it. I am not saying he may be the best candidate or the greatest governor, I am giving him a chance, but I don't hop in bed on the first date and you guys have definetly married this guy.
And David, it is well know among any blacks and people who, oh I don't know, have a little street smarts, that when a white person describes a black person as being "articulate" that is code for 'he doesn't talk like a fuckin' n****r.' I was just surprised you said that.

Posted by: The troll | Jul 14, 2005 9:52:57 AM

Well, I guess I don't speak the code. Pardon me for actually saying what I meant. And I have never claimed to have "street smarts" (whatever they may be) in this area. My point (since I apparently need to explain it to those better versed in the "code" than I am) was this: there are some successful politicians who are NOT articulate. Like the President. Like the Mayor of Boston. And there are some who are. Like Bill Clinton. Like John Kerry. Deval Patrick falls into the latter category, and sits pretty close to the top of the list, in my admittedly limited experience. I mean, have you actually heard the guy speak?


Posted by: David | Jul 14, 2005 10:13:10 AM

Don't apologise david,no need to. But that phrase has been used against people to label them racist. Serously.
And I agree with you, and know why you said it, no need to explain. You sound like a wussy liberal instead of a strong progressive by explaining.

Posted by: The troll | Jul 14, 2005 10:47:37 AM

Hey, what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Yeesh. Can we stop accusing people of being or sounding racist just for saying something nice about a minority candidate finally? I mean, come on.

To my mind, no one is married to anyone at this point. And all of us will back the Democratic candidate who wins the nod (so long as he is worthy - not, you know, like Delay on the other side). It sounds to me like people now are cautiously optimistic that for now, this guys sounds sincere, wants to run an inclusive campaign, and has answers to questions insofar as they have been asked. If Reilly or Galvin called up, my guess is they'd get the same treatment. I don't see unnecessary reverence here - I see that people are impressed, and waiting. No one here yet has endorsed or called on people to donate to any particular candidate. I think that Patrick gave his time, and a message, and answered questions, and the bloggers have conveyed that message as honestly as they could with some commentary.

We all know that the best-sounding or even the best candidate isn't always the one who can win. But at least for now, Patrick is the only candidate reaching out to non-conventional outlets to get his message to the people. To me, that sounds less like we're being used and more like being included. I think it's hip that he even thought to talk to bloggers. If Galvin or Reilly do the same, they'll be a little late to the party, but given credit too.

Let's all relax people...we're on the same side.

Posted by: Lynne | Jul 14, 2005 11:30:27 AM

well put lynne.
however, a general problem I have with Mass. progressives is that in soime regards they no different then far right nuts.
That is, we say inclusive, but inclusive really means as long as you agree 1005 with me on litmus test issues.
So I do not buy this inclusive junk.
i am just having fun with david, relax. But if a conservative called him well spoken or articulate there would be a grumbling somewhere. and that conservative was as innocent as David.

Posted by: The troll | Jul 14, 2005 3:22:47 PM

You sound like a wussy liberal instead of a strong progressive by explaining.

*sigh*. There's no pleasing some people. :)

Posted by: David | Jul 14, 2005 4:38:40 PM

Well, that's why he's The Troll. Don't say you weren't forewarned... :)

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Jul 15, 2005 10:00:13 AM

Whoever said I was a "he"
Well I never!
I can't believe how racist and sexist this blog is.

Posted by: The troll | Jul 15, 2005 10:11:06 AM

Hey, why am i having trouble for the past week geeting into comments section of Blue Mass Group? Is it my computer. Only page that i have probelmes.It takes long time for page to appear. And it doesn't save my info. If it is your problem, good. If it is my problem, bad.

Posted by: The troll | Jul 15, 2005 10:16:23 AM

Hmm. I will look into it. I've found that TypePad is generally pretty slow, and I've noticed several double-posts in the comments, so others may be having problems too.

Posted by: David | Jul 15, 2005 10:23:07 AM

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