Monday, April 10, 2006

Tom Reilly's Platform, 3

On energy and the commonwealth's economy, Tom Reilly is at extremes. The energy plank is one of his beefiest. The economy is another where's-the-beef?

Let's deal with the latter first, he apparently doesn't have a clue about how to lead Massachusetts out of its economic limbo. We were the last to go into recession and remain in decline. The problems -- escaping businesses, stagnant tech industry, et alii -- are all too clear. The solutions are Reilly's famous "weeks away."

He spoke on the economy in Belmont and in Worcester. Unfortunately, both of those were in the hand-waving, then-a-miracle-happens variety. He doesn't want to raise taxes, he's going to do something to make us technologically and medically innovative again, and he'll somehow get more businesses to open and expand here.

Let's not stake our future on his charming boards of directors.

This area is really going to hurt him as we get into real campaigning at the Democratic convention in two months and beyond. Assuming that he and Deval Patrick are headed to a primary, what's he going to say. "Oh, yeah, I'm all for encouraging technology growth and innovation, like stem-cell research. Yeah, that's the ticket." He has shown nothing else.

The job market is dog slow here. He better damned well come up with something by June.

On the other hand, energy's not so bad. It also shows what was missing in general. He has zero expertise here, but the platform is beefy enough. It's clear he has someone on board with some knowledge and vision. The rest of the platform needs this level of detail and concreteness. He needs to buy similar talent for other planks.

He promises such commonwealth efforts as:
  • To work together with other Northeastern states on a comprehensive plan to expand supply.
  • To mandate 20% renewable energy purchases by the state by 2010 and 50% by 2020.
  • To get UMASS and other universities working on energy innovation.
  • To accelerate small and medium wind projects, and to be active in private and public large-scale wind projects.
  • Various green-building projects with state support.
Of course, no Reilly platform gets approval without his Marshal Dillon angle. His first specific bullet point in the energy plan is to appoint DTE commissioners "committed to protecting consumers, including from unjustified rate hikes." Later, he promises "state legislation to create touch criminal penalties for gas and oil price gouging." He has never really left the DA's office.

Unfortunately, Reilly leaves out crucial aspects that the governor could drive. Most significantly is city and regional mass transit. This is the single most important area for energy savings and the one that requires the vision that his platform has not yet shown. For decades, our governors have stupidly built more roads and done virtually all they could to ensure fossil fuel consumption and to discourage meaningful train, subway, bus and light rail that could lead to a shift in public culture.

Looking again at $3-a-gallon gas, hellish commutes, and clogged city streets should inspire someone. So far, that has only been Deval Patrick. Reilly doesn't get it, the other three candidates aren't talking yet.

Meanwhile, Reilly has the start of a possible platform. He can make an emotional appeal with his keeping-kids-safe/anti-crime plank. He has experience and expertise here. He just needs to make it less patchwork.

For education, he must put away his hammer and stop pretending that anti-crime is the key here as well.

Energy adequate, but missing a key aspect.

Business and economy are AWOL. He won't be able to beat either Patrick or Kerry Healey unless he produces a cohesive and believable recovery model.

I hope he has lots of spare time on the job. Between now and the party convention, and then the primary, he has considerable work to do.

Part two of Reilly's reality is here.

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