Massachusetts Politics and Public Policy: Studies in Power and Leadership

Massachusetts Politics and Public Policy: Studies in Power and Leadership

Massachusetts Politics and Public Policy: Studies in Power and Leadership

Massachusetts Politics and Public Policy: Studies in Power and Leadership

Synopsis

Second only to the Red Sox as a major-league sport in Massachusetts is hardball politics as it is played at the State House on Beacon Hill. Drawing on over thirty years as a participant-observer, teacher, and commentator, Richard A. Hogarty provides an inside view of the Bay State's political arena, including the workings of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as the administrative bureaucracy.

Hogarty examines both the process of policymaking and the complexities of ont-he-ground implementation, identifying the various participants and their roles and strategies. He describes power struggles that are entangled in intricate webs of personal and political relationships, and explores their historical antecedents.

Based on an extensive review of newspaper and media accounts, a survey of the surprisingly scanty professional literature, a close scrutiny of public documents, and dozens of personal interviews, the book addresses such topics as the delivery of mental health services, urban transportation, environmental protection, public safety, welfare, corrections, the death penalty, public higher education, ethnic politics, and state ethics reform. Hogarty analyzes the shifting problems of accountability that arise when public services are provided by a variety of political actors and organizations with a wide range of ideological motivations and social and cultural commitments.

Excerpt

Properly conceived, the basic task of public policy analysis is to deal in a timely and practical fashion with pressing public issues of the day. the focus typically is on hot-button political issues and topics that are ripe for public debate and scrutiny. That is clearly the central theme of this book. Most of these essays focus primarily on state politics, policy innovation, program development, administrative practice, and organizational change in entities that are generally mandated to provide public services for various constituencies and clientele groups. Consideration is also given to the policy environment in which such organizations operate. Another objective is to understand the shifting problems of accountability that arise when public services are provided by a variety of political actors and types of organizations. Still another objective is to identify the implicit and explicit political struggles that are at the heart of policy issues and the delivery of public services.

Politics is a very human and unpredictable enterprise. in the Bay State it is commonly referred to as a “blood sport” that is fought with risks and uncertainties. Politicians constitute a special breed of individuals who seek to advance by establishing a favorable record and by trying to be all things to all people. Most successful politicians engage in bargaining and compromise, building coalitions, brokering deals, and achieving consensus, while placating as many constituents as possible and avoiding their wrath. in conducting the public business, they display human weaknesses and foibles that dismay us. Occasionally inept and evasive, sometimes even venal and corrupt, but more often than not well-intentioned and unsung, they are never free from the most direct, unremitting pressure and intense public scrutiny. Much of their labor is mundane, repetitive, time-consuming, and lackluster. Yet, without their hard work and valiant efforts, a huge and . . .

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