Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reilly's Weeks Drag On

Wait. Wait. Wait for Tom.

Wait some more.

A month and one-half ago, we tried to compare the announced platforms of the gubernatorial candidates. There was little to compare.

Deval Patrick came out early and detailed. Kerry Healey seems to have nothing to say. Tom Reilly continued to promise more soon. Starting on May 14th last year, Reilly has continued to say that details on this or that plank will appear in the coming weeks.

Then again, 998/1000 is a fraction and 10 years is 520 weeks. Numbers are fungible
While we wait and wait, we re-scrutinized Reilly's speeches, press releases and posted media coverage on his campaign site. It is not as sparse as it was and there is some substance for the patient and thorough. However, we can only hope that he's saving his big messages and plans for the June party convention -- only weeks away.

Disclaimer: I endorse Deval Patrick and have contributed to his campaign.

Tom's Skeleton

Except for his law-enforcement related to kids and the energy, there's little detail. On the other hand, he has a framework to hang some flesh on in his MAP (Massachusetts Action Plan). It includes:
  • Create jobs and make innovation the centerpiece of our state's economy
  • Make our schools not just the best in the nation, but the best in the world, and dramatically increase our students' skills in math and science
  • Make our state’s public higher education system a true jewel on par with the Ann Arbor's and Chapel Hill's
  • Make healthcare more affordable and accessible for every family in this state
  • Make our streets and neighborhoods safe again by cracking down on violent criminals and repeat offenders and giving our young people hope that there’s a better life for them than anything that gangs and drugs have to offer
  • Develop new energy sources that are cheaper, cleaner and more efficient
This MAP map remains sketchy. About job creation and other economic growth, we have little more than waving a dead chicken over the problems. It's the same with health care.

The anti-crime areas are considerably more substantial, even if cobbled together from disparate pieces.

His just-announced energy plan borrows heavily from other sources, including Patrick's. However, it shows the breadth and detail Reilly's forces will have to begin showing in the other areas.

Patrick is clearly the best speaker of the three major candidates. Yet even he is not so charismatic that he can get by on mellifluous oration. Assuming that Reilly does not stagger around the dais in debates and speeches, he has a shot at holding his own. Plus, Patrick does not have party money and machine support. He has to come up 10 or more points in the polls to catch Reilly.

Matt Dillon as Governor?

Reilly's résumé is deep in law enforcement and shallow otherwise. So, as you might expect, his site features his crime-busting history.

Amusingly enough, you see the lawman mentality creeping in beyond the safety area. For example, part of his energy program includes "Creating tough criminal penalties for gas and oil price-gouging." That'll larn them varmits!

A surprisingly major PR angle is Tom's SafeKids Youth Safety Plan. Not surprising though is how heavy it is on punishment and prosecution. That actually should play well with many voters. The throw-'em-in-jail-and-toss-the-key attitude is a perennial winner, much more popular than trying to rehabilitate.

For example, Combating Sexual Predators includes:
  • Mandatory forcible-rape sentences.
  • Banning predators from living or working near school or child-care.
  • Eliminating sex-crime-against-children statutes of limitations.
  • Lifetime parole for serious offenders -- GPS monitoring and polygraphs.
  • Adding level-2 offenders to the Web site.
The other areas are gang-and-gun violence, Internet crimes, drugs including alcohol and tobacco, and school/neighborhood safety. The solutions tend to be very active prosecution, keeping on parolees and prisoners, and a little bit of education.

Expect to hear more stress on public safety, particularly kids'. This is an area of great Reilly pride. He likes to take credit for a pretty effective and copied community-based justice program he started in Middlesex County in 1991 when he was DA there.

It was and is a good program for identifying public safety problems early, and then coordinating police, schools, social-service and the public. It started in 1985 in Manhattan and was fine-tuned in 1990 in Portland, Oregon. After its adoption in Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, and Montgomery County, Maryland, Reilly applied it here and was the first in New England
Reilly is to his credit anti-hand gun. As with the failure to bring child-abusing priests (and abetting bishops) to the bar, he has a so-so record of getting only a few pistol-like-objects off the streets. Much more needs to happen in both instances. We suspect that he would at least go hard on laws and prosecution for guns if he becomes governor.

Overall, the public-safety platform is his most well defined. If you don't look deeply enough to see how piecemeal it is, it sounds pretty good. It has the good Republican-like ring of punish, punish, punish to prevent. It is certainly debatable whether that offers much deterrence. It is certainly easy to find criminologists, penologists and even police who have been around that bush so many times that they are very discouraged.

Yet, this is a campaign, not a research project. Reilly clearly puts out the message that policing, prosecution and punishment are the way to go. That is likely to resonate with many voters.

Coming up in future posts -- in days not the coming weeks -- we'll look at education, energy and business.
Part two of Reilly's reality is here.


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1 comment:

Michael said...

This is very useful. Thanks. I give you lots of credit for sifting through a lot of "stuff" that seems to me to have little substance. Reilly seems to be good at identifying problems and stating formulaic goals, but very short on explaining how he'd get from here to there.

Plus, in all of this, it's hard to understand how he can provide so many more programs while cutting taxes. As you point out, this is an election, and that's what voters want to hear, even if it's patently nonsense. The Bushies have been very good at doing it in DC, but Massachusetts doesn't have the privilege of running a structural deficit.

I look forward to your future posts. The AG is indeed running out of time -- he needs to do something new to persuade some uncommitted delegates if he is to get his 15%, now that Gabrieli has decided to go after him.

btw, an editorial comment: perhaps you intended to misspell "varmint" but it caught my eye in any case...

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