Letters to the Boston editor, February 4, 2011
David Bernstein's summary of Right on Crime's common-sense, holistic approach to criminal justice reform (see "Strange Bedfellows," Talking Politics, January 28) really hit a nerve: it's hard to see people I so thoroughly disagree with on nearly everything else recognizing the need to re-evaluate assumptions about the fairness and utility of the national status quo, even as Deval Patrick proposes to address the same problems via yet another massive state-spending initiative that seems unlikely to provide any significant benefit to the people it is designed to help.
Before this week, I never would have guessed that there could possibly be an issue which Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, the Boston Herald, and I could all take sides against Governor Patrick on. That was, of course, before he filed his proposal to eliminate the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) — a nationally recognized public-private partnership committed to providing quality representation to indigent criminal defendants throughout the commonwealth, of which I am proud to be a small part — and replace it with a completely new state agency. This "Department of Public Counsel Services" would not only add at least 1500 new public employees to the commonwealth's payroll, but would also take upon itself all of the concomitant expenses (health/liability insurance, pensions, office overhead, etc.) presently borne entirely by private attorneys such as myself who occasionally accept appointed cases.
Of course, it's not just me who's concerned. Even the Herald's editorial board — itself no friend of CPCS in better economic times — has called Patrick's plan out as "plain wrong." Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Karl Stevens's "Failure" is one of the bright spots of the Phoenix, but his "European Paintings Respond at the MFA" (This Just In, January 21) is brilliant and very funny. Thanks.
, Deval Patrick, Politics, Boston Herald, More