Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Augustus on Patrick

Sunday's Worcester Telegram and Gazette featured an interview with Senator Ed Augustus (D-Worcester) by columnist Robert Nemeth. The whole piece is very interesting and focuses largely on the increased attention that Worcester and Centeral Massachusetts in general is able to get from Beacon Hill, particularly now that Worcester's former mayor Tim Murray is the Lieutenant Governor and Augustus now chairs the powerful Committee on Third Reading and Senator Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) is now assistant vice chairman on Ways and Means. What interested me, though, was Augustus' astute diagnosis of Governor Deval Patrick's early problems. From the column (emphasis added):

[Augustus] suggested Mr. Patrick needs to articulate his long-range agenda better in order to gather legislative support. "Lookit, we want to help, but he needs to tell us what he wants to do, where he wants to go, in a year or two. We have bits and pieces, but not the whole picture. He needs to tell us what his idea of success is, and how to achieve it. The budget in itself is not an achievement. It is merely a vehicle to help achieve things."

He went on: "Ronald Reagan's entire eight years in office could be summed up in two themes: Shrink government, and be tough on the Russians. With Bill Clinton, it was building a bridge to the 21st century and making America more competitive. We don't see a cohesive, well-focused approach from Deval Patrick yet."
I think that is a very fair assessment, particularly the part I bolded. Patrick left a bit of a vacuum while he was working on the budget, and the press was content to fill it with helicopters and Cadillacs and office furniture. Hopefully now that he has a new team in place, he'll be better able to articulate his vision and put it into policy proposals.