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Notes and observations on the press, politics, culture, technology, and more. To sign up for e-mail delivery, click here. To send an e-mail to Dan Kennedy, click here. For bio, published work, and links to other blogs, visit

Sunday, February 06, 2005

SNOW JOB. Media Log was ready to give Governor Mitt Romney a pass on his decision to fire Katherine Abbott, the head of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, for failing to get the snow cleared near West Roxbury High School the other day. Maybe it wasn't Abbott's fault, maybe she was otherwise doing a good job - but when four kids get struck by a pickup truck, a high-profile sacrifice is sometimes necessary.

Then I saw this Herald story by Franci Richardson and Michele McPhee reporting that Romney had grabbed $45,000 from Abbott's underfunded agency for a Patriots hoo-hah last week. Unbelievable. And shameless.

BLAME IT ON FRIEDMAN. According to the Shorenstein Center's Richard Parker, the only big idea put forth by economist Milton Friedman that hasn't been tried yet is privatized Social Security accounts. Unfortunately, as Parker observes in this Globe essay, all of Friedman's other ideas have been whopping failures.

posted at 4:19 PM | 6 comments | link


I'm curious to see what other state agencies contributed money to the Patriots party and how much the total was. I hope the Herald is working on that.

By Anonymous, at 11:44 AM  

A high-profile sacrifice is sometimes necessary: Why?

What's the logic of this? It seems a reflexive axiom, which would be okay except that a sacrifice often replaces addressing the problems, and is inherently unfair (or it wouldn't be a sacrifice). I have heard (but am not sure) that Abbott's agency has six plows for all the parkway roads. Why not look at the reasons for the accident, including the snow on VFW Parkway, and then assign responsibility and try to fix the root cause(s).

By Anonymous, at 10:59 PM  

The fact that Romney fired her so quickly told me a lot about Romney. While law enforcement was waiting for an investigation to see if charges should be filed against the driver involved, Romney apparently thought that this state employee was not worthy of such a fair approach. Without knowing her involvement he said, in effect, 'I dont care - fire her. It makes me look tough'.

Is that a decent way to treat your employees? The Globe reports the sidewalk next to the kids was indded plowed and local merchants report kids walk in the road all the time, snow or no snow. So there is more than one side to this, but Mit's ambitions overcame any thoughts he might have about what is the fair, decent thing to do.

By Anonymous, at 6:43 PM  

Abbott's rapid firing by Romney has less to do with the issue itself (the kids getting hit) than it does with his long-time ambition of eliminating the MDC. Oh, I'm sorry - the DCR. Ehhh...different acronym, same patronage and lousy management. Romney's been waiting patiently for any chance to strip power from the DCR and he sure got it and played it for all it was worth.

I don't know if I really agree with it, though. In theory the DCR serves an important purpose; I love the parks around Boston, after all...the Esplanade alone is worth it. Unfortunately, the DCR (like many state agencies) tends to have a lot of problems in management and in labor relations. Firing Abbott might have some positive aftereffects from a "cleaning house" mentality, but it's also equally possible that Abbott was doing a pretty decent job otherwise, and her firing might mean one fewer sane voice in a state agency. Hard to say....

BTW - anyone who thinks the VFW Parkway is a "park that happens to have a road through it" obviously doesn't drive on it very much. That road is scary; people drive it like it's the southeast expressway, and they're sure not driving it to enjoy the view.

- AR

By Anonymous, at 9:43 AM  

Willard was, is, and will always be a craven weasel. He's at home in the GOP.

By Anonymous, at 10:39 AM  

The driver of the plow was cited by the state police. He apparently had his 2 year old daughter in the cab, and she distracted him. I've blogged extensively on the subject at

By David, at 10:14 PM  

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Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.

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