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Perfect-pitch; Patrick shows signs of tone-deafness.

COLUMN: IN OUR OPINION; EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE

Deval L. Patrick's recent transformation from a campaigner with perfect political pitch to a leader showing signs of tone deafness is surprising, to say the least.

Timing has had a lot to do with it. In swift succession came news of the governor's liberal use of a state helicopter, his choice of a high-end Cadillac as his official vehicle instead of the traditional Ford Crown Victoria, his use of legislative raises to gain leverage in pursuing his agenda, the $27,000 refurnishing of his office and, most curious, the hiring of an ex-campaign fundraiser for the dubious position of appointments secretary for his wife - all at taxpayers' expense.

Those issues may not have loomed so large had it not been for the high expectations that Mr. Patrick, more than anyone, has encouraged. While crisscrossing the state last summer and fall, he spoke of hope and change and a new way of governing, but in the few weeks he has been in office the evidence of such a sea change has been scanty.

In the context of a $26 billion-plus state budget, the perks Mr. Patrick has claimed are insubstantial. However, they seem somehow symbolic of a broader nonchalance about fiscal stewardship, manifested in such things as his wholesale reinstatement of $700 million in budget cuts made by his predecessor and his resistance to the long-overdue elimination of tolls on the western turnpike. And he did all of this while warning state agencies they would have to tighten their belts to close a $1 billion gap in the upcoming budget.

Mr. Patrick has answered some of the criticism by saying he "screwed up" and agreeing to pick up part of the cost of his official vehicle and new office furnishings. We're inclined to take the admission at face value and chalk up most of the missteps to the freshman jinx that befalls all political newcomers to some degree. Whether Mr. Patrick is serious about establishing the new approach to governance he has spoken about will become clearer with the release of his fiscal 2008 budget next week.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Feb 23, 2007
Words:352
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