Monday, August 17, 2015

Baker's Cabinet

And when he got there.... 

"Baker’s administration picks worry some in GOP" by Frank Phillips, Globe Staff  February 06, 2015

Some Republicans are alarmed and some Democrats are astonished, all at Governor Charlie Baker for the choices he has made in filling his Cabinet and key staff positions.

Baker, who courted the GOP’s conservative wing last year to win the party’s gubernatorial nomination, has surrounded himself with Democrats and activists, many of them with solid liberal credentials and advocacy backgrounds.

The governor insists no one should be surprised, including those fiscal hawks and the antitax, antigovernment base of the state Republican Party.

“I ran saying one of my major platforms was that I wanted to bring in a really strong team and get things done and do it in a bipartisan basis,’’ he said in an interview this week.

Still, it is bound to be noisy around the governor’s office, considering the ideological mix that Baker has created for his administration. It has the potential to create the sort of raucous back-and-forth he has always enjoyed during his times on Beacon Hill. But for some Republicans, the view from afar is unsettling.


Take, for instance, Baker’s new chief of staff, Steve Kadish, his doorkeeper, enforcer, and a top adviser. While he has worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past, he is a Democrat who voted in the September gubernatorial primary — for Don Berwick, the favorite of the party’s progressive wing.

Jay Ash, Baker’s choice for secretary of housing and economic development, built his career as a top legislative staff member for Democrats with that experience and his deep urban roots and long ties with the Beacon Hill Democratic establishment....

Democrats and liberals in key posts: Chrystal Kornegay, the CEO of a Roxbury-based nonprofit, is now commissioner of housing and community development; Ronald L. Walker II is Baker’s secretary of labor; and then at Baker’s elbow, whispering advice into his ear, is political strategist Will Keyser, a Democrat whose credentials include working for several of the state’s most liberal members of Congress.

They were already in the pipeline.

But what broke the camel’s back for some GOP insiders was his choice of Stephanie Pollack as his transportation secretary....

It doesn’t mean that Baker has not tilted to other end of the political spectrum as well. He has some tight-fisted fiscal conservatives by his side, too — most notably, Kristen Lepore, his secretary of administration and finance, but with decades of Democratic domination of state government, Baker was facing a thin Republican bench from which to choose experienced staff and Cabinet members who would have the skills to maneuver in the politically charged State House, particularly when it comes to implementing reforms and efficiencies — something the bureaucracy and political establishment are often reluctant to embrace.

The ideological balance, however is raising alarms among some of the conservative ranks of the GOP. It is not a revolt, at least yet. But there are rumblings among the grass-roots party activists....

I've cut the guy some slack because of what was left him and what happened when he took office. Seems to be doing an okay job so far.



Charlie Baker’s first ‘staff memo’ big on kudos

For new governors, holdover appointees present tricky challenges

Baker held aloft managerial record during campaign, but hiring practices fall short

State GOP settles with Mark Fisher over convention lawsuit

Northeastern professor named state’s elder affairs head

That's another area of Patrick neglect now that you mention it.

"New labor secretary fires Patrick holdovers" by Megan Woolhouse, Globe Staff  March 05, 2015

The state’s new labor secretary, Ronald L. Walker II, has fired several top department officials who were holdovers from the Patrick administration, including Michelle Amante, who oversaw the state’s troubled rollout of a $46 million computer system to manage unemployment benefits.

That's fine with me (btw, they lied about that).

The 2013 launch of the system left businesses frustrated, and many claimants entitled to benefits were unable to get them. State phone lines and unemployment offices were clogged with strapped workers trying to get help for months after the launch of the online system, built by Deloitte Consulting of New York.

Amante was named director of the Department of Unemployment Assistance by former labor secretary Joanne Goldstein, who left the administration of governor Deval Patrick early last year for a job at Northeastern University. Amante did not respond to requests for comment....


Somebody gonna get even with Walker:

"Labor chief led board as center lapsed on job fees" by Stephanie Ebbert Globe Staff  March 11, 2015

A failed Roxbury health center stopped reimbursing the state for workers’ unemployment benefits in 2010, when the center was still operational and businessman Ronald L. Walker II — now the state labor secretary — was president of its board, according to a legal claim filed in court by the state.

The 45-year-old Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, known as “RoxComp,” buckled under the weight of financial mismanagement in 2013, leaving many of its employees out of work and filing for unemployment benefits. Both the US attorney’s office and the state attorney general’s office are investigating what went wrong.

Walker, chairman of RoxComp’s board for 12 years, stepped down 18 months before the closure. But the facility owed the state thousands of dollars in delinquent payments long before the shutdown.

Of the $761,400 in principal and interest being sought by the state, nearly $46,700 dates to Walker’s time as president of the board, according to its claim for payment filed with RoxComp’s court-appointed receiver. While the health center was open, it should have been reimbursing the state for employees who lost jobs through no fault of their own and sought unemployment benefits.

Looks like he got out just in time.

As Governor Charlie Baker’s new labor secretary, Walker oversees the state Department of Unemployment Assistance, which lost more money than anyone in RoxComp’s collapse.

Ironic, isn't it?

Walker would not speak directly to the lapse, but a spokeswoman said Walker was not aware at the time that the state was not being reimbursed.

“As volunteer chairman of the RoxComp board, Ron Walker’s role was focused on oversight and planning, not the day-to-day transactions of the health center, which received a clean bill of fiscal health from independent auditors just prior to his stepping down from the board,” said Ann Dufresne, communications director for the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Federal regulators began citing the center for problems in the summer of 2011, when Walker was still present, the Globe previously reported....  

Are they saying he lied?

During the last three years Walker served on the board, as the Globe reported, Next Street Financial charged RoxComp nearly $250,000, at a $2,500 daily rate that the US bureau later criticized as “excessive for a nonprofit organization in a precarious financial state.”


RelatedFaculty, students protest at Roxbury Community College

Maybe this selection will make conservatives happy:

"Former Bain Capital executive named revenue commissioner" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  March 26, 2015

Mark Nunnelly has spent most of his career putting together multibillion-dollar deals at Boston’s Bain Capital to buy such companies as Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s Pizza. Now he’s going to be in charge of collecting your state taxes and chasing deadbeat dads.

Nunnelly, 56, on Thursday was named commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. He had been one of Mitt Romney’s early recruits at Bain Capital, in 1989, rising to the top of the private equity firm before retiring last year.

“The Department of Revenue plays a key role in our state’s financial and economic management,’’ said Kristen Lepore, secretary of the state’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance. “I look forward to working with Mark to ensure fairness across the board.”

A large donor to Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama, Nunnelly is the latest in a string of Bain Capital executives to pursue public service after making their fortunes buying and selling companies. The job of a private equity investor often entails loading companies up with debt and, in some cases, cutting jobs.

Nunnelly succeeds Amy Pitter, who has been head of the Revenue Department since 2011. In his new role, he will oversee nearly 2,000 employees and the collection of $23 billion in annual tax payments from individuals and businesses. The office also oversees child support enforcement.

Nunnelly has an air of unflinching confidence — and a slight drawl from his native Covington, Ky. He reaped the benefits of working at Bain Capital in its glory days, through the 1990s, when partners and clients were richly rewarded for doing big deals.

He led the $1.1 billion buyout of Domino’s in 1998. Bain was the high bidder for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza chain, paying $385 million in cash and borrowing the rest. But over time, it made a 500 percent return on its money, as reported in the book “The Real Romney.”

They really delivered!

Nunnelly also was involved in a deal so successful that Bain partners likened it to being “hit with the lucky stick.” They bought the credit-reporting firm Experian and resold it seven weeks later, tripling their money in 1996.

Nunnelly is a philanthropist who has served on the boards of education- and youth-related nonprofits, including City Year and Jumpstart. In the past, he was a candidate to run the Harvard University endowment. In recent years, he had indicated to friends that he was looking for a way to “give back” in his next chapter, after Bain.

He was not available for an interview Thursday. In a statement, Nunnelly said he was pleased to join the Baker administration and “to have the opportunity to put my skills and experience to work for the Commonwealth.” He added, “I want to ensure that we administer tax laws fairly, across the board, which will provide us with a healthy revenue stream while increasing the economic competitiveness that makes Massachusetts great.”

Alex Stanton, a spokesman for Bain Capital, said: “Mark was a great partner and investor during his tenure at Bain Capital. He has always placed a strong emphasis on service and helped lead nonprofit organizations across the state and nationally, focused on improving quality of life for all residents.”

Nunnelly has continued to serve on several corporate boards since leaving Bain. Officials were unavailable to say whether he planned to leave those boards.

Nunnelly also will serve as special adviser to Baker for “technology and innovation competitiveness.” Baker, in a statement, said Nunnelly’s “track record of building organizations and growing companies in Massachusetts and across the country will add greatly to our policy discussions and initiative.”


Also seeBaker names new state comptroller


"This town of 33,377 people is not the most conservative in Central Massachusetts — a red swath of a blue state that fueled one of the state’s heartiest Tea Party chapters — but it’s been a notable hub of Republican activism for years that now commands disproportionate influence on Beacon Hill. The new governor chose as his running mate Republican Karyn Polito, who had spent a decade representing Shrewsbury in the state House of Representatives, and who brought friends with her into the administration." 

Not that many.

Speaking of the blue state:

"Lacking conservatives, Legislature skews liberal; Mass. Legislature is 2d-most liberal in the land" by Evan Horowitz Globe Staff  August 09, 2015

Massachusetts has the second-most liberal Legislature in the country, behind California, according to the latest figures put together by political scientists at Georgetown and Princeton universities.

By what measure? It certainly isn't where the money goes.

It’s not that Massachusetts Democrats are particularly left wing. Relative to legislators in a number of other states, they’re fairly moderate. In New York and Vermont, the Democratic caucuses lean further left, and the same is true in a handful of redder states, like Arizona and Wisconsin.

What do terms like "right" and "left" mean anymore? 

How do you like your fa$ci$t corporate government administered, with a D or an R next to the name?

The reason Massachusetts ranks so high on the list of liberal legislatures is that there are almost no conservative members. Not only do Democrats control about 80 percent of both houses, but the few Republicans who do hold seats are pretty centrist. They have roughly the same political preferences as Democrats in Oklahoma, and they’re actually further left than Democrats in Arkansas.

The "conservatives" are out here in Shays' sticks, as usual.

And given this arrangement — with Massachusetts’ Republican legislators planted firmly in the center and Democrats not stretching too far left — there is relatively little polarization in the state. For now, Massachusetts seems to have avoided the fractious trend that is making politics more divisive in virtually every other state. 

This stuff is taxing my patience.


Part of the beauty of how the research defines liberal and conservative is that it doesn’t require a rigorous account of differing beliefs. You just have to follow the votes.

Think of it like a puzzle, only you’re filling in the political spectrum. The finished puzzle mirrors conventional notions of left and right, with liberal Democrats on one side and conservative Republicans on the other.

Got to get out of the box of conventional notions and myths. That's why you and I are here, reader.

Strictly speaking, it shows that Massachusetts legislators support the types of policies that are embraced by California and Connecticut, contested in much of the country, and anathema in Oklahoma and Missouri. That, by itself, turns out to be a pretty good definition of liberalism.

But not Kentucky?

The data show that the Massachusetts Legislature really does reflect public opinion.


Bay Staters are among the most liberal people in the country, so it makes sense that they tend to elect fairly liberal legislators. 

The PEOPLE may be; the LEADERS are NOT, nor are the policies (save gay marriage, hallelujah)!

Elsewhere, this relationship seems to have broken down.

Me, Globe, you get my meaning?

Even though Coloradans and Pennsylvanians have pretty similar political views, they have very different legislatures. Colorado’s is quite liberal, Pennsylvania’s fairly conservative.

Perhaps what’s most unusual about Massachusetts, though, is that it manages to be very liberal without being too polarized.

This is different from California, for instance, where the parties are extremely far apart. Not only does California have the most liberal Democrats, it also has the second-most-conservative Republicans.

Massachusetts has been largely insulated from this fate, but there’s no guarantee this will last. The national trend suggests it’s hard for states to avoid falling into a more divisive brand of politics....

Especially with politicians and the .01% pre$$.