Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lehigh: Perfect is Enemy of the Good

The Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh attacks today the measure that would allow municipal employees to enter into the state healthcare system because the bill before the legislature gives public employee unions too much power to negotiate the terms of the deal in each community. His problem is that the language of the bill would let unions "either veto a locality's attempt to join or exact other concessions as the price of their okay." Let's leave aside the idea that wanting some other compensation from an employer who is going to reduce your benefits is some sort of criminal impulse because Lehigh does not focus on the merits of allowing union input, but rather uses his column as a chance to chide lawmakers for putting the collective bargaining language in. In particular, he mocks Rep. Rachel Kaprielian (D-Watertown) for using the word "consternation" as a euphemism for "we can't pass it without coalition bargaining included." Lehigh might be forgiven for skipping that detail if he were writing only about the policy implications of the bill, but most of his column is about the politics of the measure. As such, it seems to me that the biggest question is whether this bill could pass over the objections of the union-friendly members of the Legislature. If the answer is no, then it's a good thing that language is in there so that we have some action taken rather than another legislative stalemate.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why some members of the media would rather see a big fight that accomplishes nothing than a step in the right direction. Could it be because compromise doesn't sell newspapers?

Update: Charley on the MTA has more at BMG. In hindsight, I think I'm being a little hard on Lehigh. It is not his job, after all, to count votes. Still, I think that he might better use his position as a columnist to whip up support for his position rather than use it as another excuse to bash the legislature. He ends his column wondering if this is what one-party-rule has wrought, but I can't see any way that a Republican governor removes this language if the Democratic legislature wants it in.