Friday, March 5, 2010
By Bruce Mohl
Howie Carr and Jim Braude are about as far apart on the political spectrum as you can get, but both of them are singing the same song about the state’s probation service.
Carr, the Boston Herald columnist and WRKO talk-show host, has now written two columns dealing with what he calls the “world class hackerama” at the probation service. He had my colleague Jack Sullivan on his radio show earlier this week to talk about a story Jack and I wrote on patronage at the probation service.
Braude, the liberal radio talk-show host and New England Cable News commentator, had me on his BroadSide show last night to talk about the same issue. Braude used the “h” word only once during his show, but he seemed to be just as outraged as Carr about the unchecked power of John J. O’Brien, the commissioner of probation.
Reciting a litany of pet peeves, from outrageous pension benefits to lush municipal health care plans to patronage at probation, Braude asked me what incentive legislators have to end these practices.
I couldn’t think of any, but later in the show I suggested political pressure is building on Beacon Hill to attack some of these problems. After all, it’s an election year and anything can happen when angry voters are going to the polls. It’s also telling that Braude and Carr – in some ways the yin and yang of Massachusetts politics -- are on the same page.
Bruce Mohl is editor of CommonWealth magazine.