Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beggar Man, Thief, Auditor, Treasurer, Secretary

The potential for fundamental reform starts with the second tier of MA government this fall. The contests for commonwealth auditor, secretary and treasurer are strong and offer clear distinctions. In theory at least, all three of these fundamental roles could switch to progressives eager to reform, or rather reformulate, the duties.

Even the Boston Globe is getting wind of the possibilities. Today the Metro front features a living-pages style intro to six candidates from three parties aiming for auditor. It's fab to see the paper doing some political reporting not off a press release or out of a press conference. Don't click on the story or pick up the paper expecting insight and details though.

First, as is the Globe's wont, there are no links to the candidates' campaign sites. Nor is there a table setting out the platform differences. Instead, we meet them like they were on bar stools, butt to butt. We get a wee flavor of personality and each gets to vent a little — she is an insider, they aren't CPAs like I am, it's good that the GOP convention didn't endorse me...

You get through the short piece without any knowledge of who swhat and who intends to change what. If you just can't stand it, click on the links below to their sites:
  • Guy Glodis, Democrat. "My goal is simple: to expose fraud wherever it may exist, and ensure that every tax dollar is used as intended."
  • Kamal Jain, Republican. Promises to help other Republicans as his own rising tide of transparency. He pledges the seeming contradiction of letting us all see where every dollar and dime goes, while making the process very simple.
  • Mary Connaughton, Republican. CPA and gadfly on the turnpike board, she promises to find fraud from public assistance up through big contracts and to squash unfunded mandates on communities.
  • Mike Lake, Democrat. Offers the same investigations and audits as others, but claims to be a truly independent outsider business type. He contrasts himself with Bump.
  • Nathanael Fortune, Green-Rainbow. Sketchy site, but stresses ROI on state expenditures.
  • Suzanne Bump, Democrat. With considerable high-level government experience, she says she'd stress more performance audits and focus on services contracts and reducing health costs.
Meanwhile, those other two positions have some fascinating options. We're doing our part at Left Ahead! in chatting with independent Jim Henderson for secretary, who wants a total rework of the office to make our commonwealth's public information, well, public for the first time. In the last couple of weeks, we had the two Dems up for treasurer — Steve Grossman, who calls for an activist, progressive office, and Steve Murphy, who has a toned-down version of Grossman's goals but still sees the treasury as a function to help create jobs. Our treasurer trifecta completes this week with GOP nominee Karyn Polito, who disagrees with the activist shift and wants to take pensions away from pols to keep them honest.

So, come next January, we could end up with middling bureaucrats in this three positions. We could also have one, two or three serious reformers. Meanwhile, there are some women and men who have a lot of convincing to do and a lot of face time to put in just to get people to remember them. Better they than I.

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