Sunday, October 03, 2010

Waking the Sleeping Snapping Turtle

Somebody got to Mary Z or maybe she watched her abysmal performance in her last go-round with Suzanne Bump. This time Connaughton was rude and shallow, but at least not passive and obtuse.

The Auditor candidates went at each other — with vigor this time — on Jon Keller's stools.

You can catch part one here and part two here.

I cringed at Connaughton's raised-by-wolverines style and lack of substance. Amusingly enough, over at RedMassGroup, Barbara Anderson has a very different take on it. Then again, she too has been known to use the same techniques of talking over and shouting down people.

She does note accurately that Keller had no control over the answers and debate. She inaccurately describes Connaughton as waiting her turn while Bump bullied her. As you can see for yourself, Connaughton hectored instead of reasoned throughout. She's no one you'd want to have over for dinner, much less as your coworker or supervisor.

For Bump, alas, she made her points a bit subtly. For example, Connaughton iterates and reiterates that she is a CPA, thus qualified to be Auditor. Bump's far more reasoned take on that is that there are 150 auditors in our commonwealth's government and becoming 151 is not what it is about. She may have to come right out and say, "The Auditor hires people like you, tells them what to do and evaluates their performance."


Trusting a majority of voters to hear and understand what she means by being able to provide vision and management expertise seems a bit of a leap. Connaughton's claim that you need to be an account to be Auditor is rather like claiming you need years of experience stuffing circuit boards to run a major electronics corporation.

To their credit, both candidates are aware there is a clear choice for this spot, although they disagree on what factors come into play. Connaughton is clearly extremely literal, as befits an accountant. She explains the major distinction as that Bump as a former legislator and cabinet member is more plugged into government. That to Connaughton is a slur and proof that she is the only independent candidate.

Of course, that may not play well to those paying attention. Is she saying that you have to come into the office ignorant of the players to be fair? That's dangerous and seems naive.

For her part, Bump more meaningfully draws the line at herself being the one would provide a clear vision of what the office needs to accomplish. Here too she could denigrate her opponent's weak arguments better by noting straight out that the dozens of accountants need to do their jobs, but someone needs to point them to the right tasks, evaluate the results, and identify the key trends across the board.

Auditor at least is the least revolutionary of the three big down-ballot races this time. With Treasurer and Secretary also seriously contested for the first time in decades, those two have candidates promising major reforms if elected. Bump wants to professionalize the office, but not make sweeping changes.

In contrast Dem nominee Steve Grossman would be a activist Treasurer, overhauling the long-time static office. His GOP opponent Karyn Polito wants to keep the money safe, but otherwise leave things pretty much as they are.

For Secretary, independent candidate Jim Henderson wants a radically upgraded office, with public access to public records and massive efforts to increase voter turnout. Dem incumbent Bill Galvin isn't saying; we assume he is delighted with his performance. GOP nominee Bill Campbell expresses only very narrow goals, like opposing same-day voter registration and making sure soldiers get their absentee ballots on time.

I can't stop writing and saying how important the three offices are. It seems odd that for the moment at least, Auditor gets the most play.

Then again, the choice here is, as the candidates note, clear. The very literal types may agree with Connaughton's take that being an accountant is the prime qualification. Bump is on the side saying you deserve someone who can actually manage the whole process, including all those accountants.

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