Corruption Must be Baker’s First Priority – Valley Patriot Editorial (11-14)

Baker2Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker has a tough job ahead of him.

We believe Baker must identify and address the rampant corruption epidemic plaguing the state before he can adequately tackle the budget deficit left by tax and spend Democrat Deval Patrick, the incompetence at DCF, a Parole Board out of control, an EBT welfare program that leaves children starving, or a tax structure that discourages business.

Quite often, whistleblowers call The Valley Patriot offices to tell their story of waste, fraud and abuse because they have no idea who they can trust in government to report the crimes they are aware of.

Most are petrified to talk to government agencies for fear that their identity may be revealed.

Day after day, we hear from animal rescues concerned about the corruption in the Department of Agriculture, nurses who work at the VA who are fearful of telling their supervisors about abuse of our veterans, case workers at DCF who are cynical about coming forward about the corruption they see every day, and even police officers unsettled that the corrupt officers in their own departments will be tipped off by “internal affairs” officers putting their own lives at risk.

Charlie Baker has a lot of good will coming into office in January. He also has some great ideas on how to make government work better and smarter.

But, without a sincere and aggressive effort to change the way Massachusetts handles job selling, illegal contracts, theft and the corruption that occurs with impunity in the good ol’ boy system on Beacon Hill, any changes he makes will be window dressing or temporary at best.

We cannot think of a better way for Baker to restore public faith in government and begin to make real changes than to create an Office of Corruption & Transparency.

The head of this office would answer directly to the Governor, could be tasked with public outreach so that the public, as well as state, municipal and federal workers in Massachusetts know exactly where to go to anonymously report theft, mismanagement, fraud or abuse of public dollars, services or resources.

A State Office Corruption & Transparency could force the appropriate government agencies to pay attention to information gained from whistleblowers, publicly update the legislature and the Governor as to what laws need to be changed to rectify specific problems, and should have the power to override state department heads or law enforcement if they are not effectively or efficiently addressing major problems.

The office would also work hand in hand with the Inspector General, conduct management and performance audits, and would operate on a budget based on the money they save the taxpayers.

We know that Governor-elect Baker is going to be inundated with the day-to-day operations of state government when he takes office in January. We also know that as a new governor, he will be consumed with pushing forward his agenda for Massachusetts’s government.

Having a specific office tasked with rooting out corruption would take a lot off his plate and would help him streamline the way state government operates.

A week prior to Election Day, Baker told a group of supporters in Middleton that he liked the idea of a central office in charge of investigating and rooting out corruption in state and municipal government.

We hope he still likes that idea now that he is in a position to do something about it.