Living down to expectations

Last fall, I despaired for my neighbors in Massachusetts. It looked very much like they were going to elect Deval Patrick their governor. He ran on platitudes and good feelings and charisma, but gave hints of how he would govern — and it was very far to the left.

Well, he won, and his winning slogan — “yes we can!” — appears to have finally found a meaning.

“Can we run this state even farther into the ground? Yes we can!”

First up, Governor Patrick was presented with a chance to participate in a national movement to honor President Ronald Reagan on what would have been his 96th birthday. All told, 33 governors signed proclamations declaring February 6 “Ronald Reagan Day.” 17 governors either ignored the request or openly refused — and Patrick was firmly in the latter camp.

Just to confirm his intentions to fill the stereotypes of liberals, Patrick is also looking to “reform” another state program. The Criminal Offender Record Information program provides potential employers with access to applicants’ criminal records, listing convictions. Patrick, saying that he doesn’t want all crimes to be “life sentences,” is proposing that it be limited to only those crimes “relevant” to the job being sought.

I can just see where this is going. Highly-paid consultants to establish just what sorts of crimes are “relevant” to what sorts of jobs. Lawsuits by disgruntled ex-cons saying that their convictions were not “relevant.” And employers getting sued for hiring felons who end up committing crimes.

Even the Boston Globe — to whom Patrick owes a decent chunk of his election — has its doubts. Currently, the city of Boston is following the model that Patrick is leaning towards, and that hasn’t worked out too well:

In Boston last week, the Globe reported that a public works employee who was suspended after allegedly running down a 64-year-old woman with a city snowplow had a long history of drug violations and driving infractions when the city hired him.

The city did not check the record of the worker, Joseph M. MacDonald, because of (Boston’s Mayor Thomas) Menino’s new employment policy.

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