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What Does It All Mean?

Jun 04, 2017 05:26AM ● By State House News

Gov. Baker checks his watch. (State House News Service)

Words can inspire, they can sting and they can leave one scratching their head.

Recap and analysis of the week in state governmentThe words spoken - and still to be uttered - this week from Boston to Washington did that and more as gubernatorial candidates geared up for a weekend of Baker-Trump bashing, the president excoriated an historic international climate pact, the feds busted a major fentanyl trafficking ring in Lawrence and Democrats sniped each other over ideological purity.

But as Trump might say (or Tweet): "Covfefe."

More than 5,000 Democrats will descend on downtown Worcester starting Friday night for the party's off-year platform convention where the three declared candidates for governor will get their chance to address the party faithful.

Former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and environmentalist Bob Massie will all be looking to send activists home feeling energized about their campaign and chances to topple Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018.

Gonzalez got a jump on the convention by releasing a criminal justice platform that calls for eliminating all non-murder related mandatory minimum sentences, while Warren stood up for a party platform that pushes Democrats far to the left of what the actual power brokers at the State House appear willing to accept at the moment.

A fourth man - former Sen. Dan Wolf - has not made up his mind on 2018 yet, but at a Somerville Democratic City Committee meeting this week he called out House Speaker Robert DeLeo as one of the party leaders "tone deaf" to a grassroots agenda that includes single payer health care.

"If they seem tone deaf to the platform then people should run against them," Wolf said.

DeLeo, whose views on tax increases are always evolving but is on the more conservative end of the Democratic spectrum, has not made life easier for himself with the progressive set with his refusal to commit at this point to the future Democratic nominee for governor.

Unlike Senate President Stanley Rosenberg who is all aboard the beat-Baker train in 2018 and will be at the convention, DeLeo is skipping the Worcester festivities, and maybe for the best, at least for him. The reason for his absence went unexplained Friday by staff after the party told the News Service earlier in the week that he would be among the party elders at the convention.

Ironically, the same night Wolf challenged DeLeo's big "D" bonafides, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the dean of the Bay State delegation, was in Boston giving a public interview to Josh Miller of the Boston Globe where he lamented the "pure party" approach to candidate recruitment.

Massie, who has made a career out of environmental activism, also got a ready made applause line this week when President Trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, warning that the deal, unbalanced in his estimation, would disproportionately hurt American jobs.

The action elicited an storm surge of criticism from Bay State Democrats and calls from Attorney General Maura Healey, Sen. Eric Lesser and others for Gov. Baker to join with the Democratic governors of California, New York and Washington in a new state-centered alliance to push the tenets of the Paris accord forward.

Baker, also critical of Trump's decision to withdraw from the pact, initially would not commit to joining the new coalition, but was unequivocal in his support for promoting clean energy and carbon emission reductions in Massachusetts. But by the end of the day Friday after speaking with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a fellow Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Baker had signed Massachusetts up.

It just so happened that the coal-burning Brayton Point power plant in Somerset - the last of its kind - closed down for good this week as well.

Baker also went on a bit of a bill-filing spree, proposing legislation to modernize the unemployment benefits system, create a new Cabinet-level secretary of technology and to borrow $3.8 billion over the next five years for upgrades to state office buildings, the court, and on higher education campuses.

The UI bill would extend benefits to certain relocating spouses of military members, while denying eligibility to inmates participating in work-release programs once they are set free from incarceration.

The governor also replaced the first member of his Cabinet since taking office after Labor Secretary Ronald Walker, a notable Democrat in Baker's bipartisan Cabinet, announced his plan to return to the private sector.

Apparently Walker wasn't as "jazzed" about the work ahead in the next year and a half as Baker thought in December when he said he believed his Cabinet was still energized and ready to complete the first term with him.

Baker tapped Enterprise Bank executive Rosalin Acosta to take Walker's place, a Cuba-born Wesleyan grad who was named by El Planeta as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in Massachusetts three years running.

She's also given exclusively, though not heavily, to state Democrats over the past decade.

But as Scott Brown might say (or Tweet): "bqhatevwr."
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