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Whither Willard?…

I’m going to try to keep this short. However, while today is about new beginnings with the swearing in of the new DEMOCRATIC Congress in Washington and Deval Patrick in Boston, I am on a kind of past binge this week.

I was never a fan of Mitt Romney, in my innocence in the fall of ’02, I encouraged my parents to vote for Shannon O’Brien, which in retrospect was not the best advice.

Romney started his job as the state government was in crisis. Awash in red ink, the state needed some fast action. The legislature wisely turned the budget axe over to the newly minted governor. Romney should have made some more cuts to state operations and less to communities. Municipalities, Springfield to name just one, suffered the layoffs. The crisis should have been shouldered by state and municipal employees equally. By and large the state suffered what was basically a hiring freeze, no significant layoffs.

Then in December of his first term, Mitt Romney suffered a setback or a bonanza, depending on your perspective. The Supreme Judicial Court handed down its decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Romney, who almost certainly had designs on the Presidency since inauguration, was now governor of state expressing its stereotypically liberal tendencies. This decision became both an albatross and an opportunity as Romney brushed up on his conservative credentials.

From there, Romney’s administration took a more socially conservative position, but in my honest opinion Mitt Romney the man never really changed. Was he always this conservative? Yes. However, he also knows that you cannot legislate social policy. That is why, Gay Marriage aside, he never really took an extreme conservative position. It was all appearances.

Anyway, Romney pursued his own idea of fiscal restraint. I do have the time to list every fiscal policy I disagreed with. Even his most ardent opponents must have agreed to his belief that the state income tax be reduced to 5% was democratic, note the small “d”. However, the reality was the state continued to need the money. To illustrate it needed to raise a host of fees which went into the General Fund. It should be noted that Romney, anti-tax as he claims to be, supported these fees.

Romney tried to cut unnecessary state entities whenever possible. Merging the Metropolitan District Commission into the new Department of Conservation and Recreation was long overdue. Boston Municipal Court also lay in his cross hairs. It functions exactly like the District Courts and yet had its own hierarchy and administration. The Turnpike Authority’s demise was also a priority. In addition he opposed spending the Rainy-Day fund in the midst of record surpluses.

Romney also worked with the legislature to enact Historic Healthcare legislation last year. As a liberal, the good side of having his input was devising a plan palatable to conservatives. Basically it means that national health care is possible and with conservative approval, which grudgingly I admit, is necessary.

Many times Romney’s plans were thankfully derailed by the legislature. Vetoes on Day-after pills and stem cell research were overridden. A proposal to reinstate the death penalty was voted down. To his credit, Romney also came to fore after the Big Dig tunnel collapse this past summer. Drowning out Kerry Healey once again, he took time off from his anywhere but Massachusetts tour and did his job. Kidding aside, he handled the situation well.

Unfortunately, pretty much halfway through 2005, he disappeared. He spent an inordinate amount of time outside of the state. He certainly could have built up his name and reputation nationally without going MIA as often as he did. I mean, let’s face it, he was governor of the only state with same sex marriage.

It does sound like I am kissing Romney’s rump. I am not sorry to see him go. Nonetheless, I cannot take away his accomplishments…nor refrain from throwing his failures in his face. So. Goodbye, Gov. Time to pack up and head north…to NH. To be continued in a future edition of “Oh, no. 0-8″…