This week, Governor Charlie Baker is reaching that symbolic milestone of his first 100 days in office as leader of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The first 100 days has been used as measuring point for public officials since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt –who took office on March 4, 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression. FDR undertook a whirlwind of legislative and executive action that stands unchallenged to this day as one of the busiest and most productive periods in the history of the presidency and the United States Congress.
Measuring anyone by their first 100 days in a complex new job is really pretty arbitrary if not downright unfair — but like it or not — it’s become a traditional standard especially for elected officials.
As far as Charlie Baker and his first 100 days — the very clear sense I’m getting — both from Republican and Democratic legislators I’ve asked and from various accounts in the media — is that our new Governor is doing very well. On this week’s “The State We’re In’ edition of “Connecting Point”, State Rep.Joe Wagner — veteran Democratic legislator from Chicopee says he was told by a friend working in the Baker administration that the Governor has told his appointees to forget about ideology and work to get things done. The Governor seems to have followed his own advice appointing people from both sides of the political aisle and varying views to key state posts. He’s said many times he just wants to have the best people possible on his team and his appointments have been pretty uniformly praised by a wide range of observers.
All this is not to say the first weeks in office have been easy. Anything but. Boston received record amounts of snow and numbing cold which crippled the metro area –and led, in part at least, to major transportation troubles for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. In some cases, the power-carrying “third rail” actually froze — leaving trains unable to move and commuters stranded.
Through it all, the Governor was at the state emergency management bunker in Framingham — appearing on TV morning, noon and night with the latest word on weather and travel — and talking about needing to get his own house shoveled out. He also initiated a streamlined, one-month, top-to-bottom study of the “T”s troubles and it actually seems that after years of sloppy management and misspent millions (maybe billions) something is really going to happen to make the “T” better.
Reforming the “T” has been talked about for decades. Charlie Baker is moving to try to do something in his first 100 days. If you ask me, that alone is enough to declare the start of the Baker years on Beacon Hill a success!