The State Senate voted last Friday to 1) allow municipalities to require employees, elected officials, and retirees to pay more for their health care coverage and 2) eliminate Bunker Hill Day and Evacuation Day as paid holidays for Suffolk County state workers.

These are common sense actions they should have taken years ago but bravo for doing the right thing now.
 
 
Today's Boston Globe reports that the Probation Department is more about providing jobs and outsized salaries to the friends and relatives of the politically powerful rather than competently overseeing the probation of those who have been convicted of "drunken driving, sex offenses, and other crimes."
 
 
Today brought many new subscribers thanks to the great publicity generated by this op-ed running in the Boston Globe today.  Forward it widely!!
 
 
"Stories about $150,000-a-year pensions for retired officials are fueling anger and demands for action, but there seems to be little that officials can do about existing contracts, for legal and other reasons. The focus has turned to reforming the state systems, to make sure they are fiscally sustainable in the future. What states have led the way? And what political obstacles have arisen in other places?"

Click here for the discussion
 
 
Charlie Baker, Republican candidate for governor, is opposed to replacing pricey police details with civilian flaggers. Mort Zuckerman offers an explanation:  "These public sector employees have a unique and powerful advantage in contract negotiations. Quite simply it is their capacity to deliver political endorsements and votes for the very people who are theoretically on the other side of the negotiating table. Candidates who want to appear tough on crime will look to cops, sheriffs' deputies, prison guards, and highway patrol officers for their endorsement."

To read the whole piece, click here
 
 
"It’s obvious why public employees and their unions oppose contracting out: It often means a loss of public-sector jobs. But the function of state government isn’t to maintain the public payroll at a certain level. Rather, it’s to perform essential functions and provide necessary services. It hardly need be said that that should be done as efficiently as possible."

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/05/07/pacheco_law_drives_up_costs_baker_alone_declares_war_on_it/
 
 
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/20100506speaker_robert_deleo_stalls_as_agency_pay_skyrockets_quasi-public_employees_rake_it_in/
 
 
"Even as Boston police officials laid off cadets and cut popular units like the mounted patrol, some police officers managed to dramatically boost their paychecks last year, in a few cases to more than a quarter of a million dollars... In one case, a lieutenant was paid for four hours after 15 minutes of case preparation."
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/05/06/police_pay_can_exceed_250k/
 
 
This is a fascinating article comparing the state of democracy in Massachusetts vs. Minnesota. It turns out in our 2008 statewide election, just 17% of House races were contested -- the lowest rate in the nation. That is just not good for democracy nor accountability - fiscal or otherwise.