Weenie Roast!

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  June 5, 2010

Normally, it's recommended to find a place to tuck those folks away in irrelevant, powerless positions where they can't do any harm: like, for example, the BOSTON CITY COUNCIL.

The danger there, of course, is that, occasionally the City Council can find itself with an actual decision of consequence to make — like, say, whether to approve funding of the arbitrated firefighters contract.

This is a tough one for many of the councilors. On the one hand, they can't stand up to the pressure of municipal unions, who help get them elected. On the other, they can't stand up to the pressure of the media and public, who are pummeling them.

It's tough to decide on the correct spineless thing to do.

There is no lack of spine on the part of Mayor TOM MENINO and union leader EDDIE KELLY. They have made crystal clear that, when it comes to the central issue of ensuring that firefighters are clean and sober, the most important thing is who wins and loses in their own personal grudge match.

Kelly has admitted in interviews that, yeah, maybe it's not really fair to get a big raise just for submitting to testing — but he demanded it anyway. And in an arbitration brief, Menino suggested adopting the widely ridiculed drug testing used by Boston's police (in which the testee knows when the tests are coming each year, and can plan their highs accordingly), if that method would come without a union quid pro quo raise.

Public safety: it's all about the Benjamins, baby.

Splitting the vote
But how can I leave off the fine folks who want to run our great Commonwealth beginning next year? I'm talking, of course, about the two challengers for governor, Republican CHARLIE BAKER and independent TIM CAHILL — a duo trying to prove themselves worse as candidates than the front-runners of 2006: Tom Reilly and Kerry Healey.

That year, Reilly and Healey managed to get creamed when nobody even knew who DEVAL PATRICK was. This year, Baker and Cahill are getting creamed when everybody knows Patrick — and doesn't like him.

Baker and Cahill seem amazingly eager to cave in to conservatives. Cahill made the Fox News rounds a while back, declaring he had suddenly discovered that Massachusetts's health-care reform, which he had never previously criticized, was literally bankrupting the state. This past week, he declared that Patrick is soft on Muslims and terror. Perhaps next he'll be demanding Deval's birth certificate?

Cahill, by the way, also finds himself in the middle of the Probation Department fiasco, and people have been surprised at how casually he has reacted to the reports of patronage.

People need to remember that Cahill comes out of the political breeding ground of Norfolk County. As I understand it, if you want a government job down there, you don't fill out an application — you submit a link to your page on geneology.com.

Baker, of course, had to face Republican delegates at the GOP convention a few weeks ago. Those delegates, surveying the array of problems facing the Commonwealth, demanded one overarching pledge from Baker: stick it to the boys who dress like girls, and vice versa.

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