Printer Friendly

Detailing reform; Patrick right to push for flagger use.


Gov. Deval L. Patrick's push to use more civilian flaggers in place of paid police details on certain construction projects is a small but very welcome bit of reform being implemented in a state where exceptionalism and special rules too often carry the day at the expense of taxpayers. The fierce opposition of police unions to the use of flaggers - amounting to irresponsibility in the case of a Woburn work site protest last fall - revealed that objections on the grounds of safety are really a smokescreen for anger at the loss of special privileges.

By proceeding with plans to double the number of flaggers in use at some 71 work sites around the state, Mr. Patrick has delivered on a promised reform that will save money at a time when every dollar counts.

Exactly how much money will be saved is impossible to calculate, given the complexity of contracts, jurisdictions, and the interplay of police and civilian pay rates, as well as prevailing wage rules. However, a 2004 study by the Beacon Hill Institute estimated that Massachusetts residents and businesses might have saved between $37 million and $67 million in 2003 had the state permitted the use of flaggers.

Picking up on that study and the pub-lic's dismay with its perception of inefficiency, the governor pushed to achieve a reasonable reform that provides for comprehensive training and ensures safety. The use of civilian flaggers is limited in scope, and police details are used in hazardous situations or whenever regulations otherwise require it.

Police unions have been vocal and unrelenting in their opposition, citing two instances of crashes at work sites where flaggers were on the job. Patrick administration officials were quick to point out this week that seven deaths have occurred from 2000 to 2006 at Massachusetts work sites manned by police details.

Neither statistic can or should be used to clinch the case for exclusive use of one method or the other. Many work sites can be safely staffed by civilian flaggers, as has been done for years in every other state; common sense dictates that police be used at others.

However large or small the savings, Mr. Patrick deserves credit for making a common-sense reform a reality. Such practicality and persistence merits wider application on Beacon Hill.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 3, 2009
Previous Article:A time for goodbyes.
Next Article:The best-laid plans ... Twists, turns guaranteed for graduates.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters