Gov. Charlie Baker is the state’s most popular politician, by far, according to a new Suffolk University poll.
Baker’s favorability rating is at 74 percent, compared to 54 percent for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 59 percent for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Only 8 percent of those polled said they had an unfavorable opinion of the governor.
Wonder how voters’ views of Baker compare with the level of regard in which the Legislature is held these days.
One not so enamored of the governor might be Marblehead’s Ferdinand Alvaro Jr., a former member of state transportation board, which was summarily dismissed by the governor this week. Though he acknowledges problems, particularly with the MBTA, Alvaro thinks the reform effort will require more than changes at the top, which has been Baker’s primary focus to date.
A Republican, Alvaro was appointed to the MBTA board of directors by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008. He was subsequently named to the new board created to oversee all the state’s transportation agencies, but stepped down when his term expired in 2013.
“The backlog in maintenance is something that has been an issue since I joined,” Alvaro told Commonwealth magazine in a recent interview. “The problems that the panel pointed out like lax labor performance are more a function of the things that have been forced on the T by the Legislature, like the Pacheco Law and binding arbitration in their union contracts. What has been inferred — that the entire management is dysfunctional — is completely unjustified.”
Alvaro said that while the public demands a certain level of service, particularly when it comes to providing transportation for the elderly and disabled, taxpayers don’t seem willing to pay for it.
In the interview he endorsed the idea of a fare structure based on need and ability to pay, noting that “my neighbors who commute in from Marblehead and take the train from Swampscott can very easily afford an increase in their commuter rail fees.”
Baker this week announced the creation of a five-member Fiscal and Management Control Board to oversee the MBTA’s operations.
Groucho Marx might have been describing today’s tea partiers or the Republican majority in the House when he observed many years ago, “Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?”
Former colleague Paul Briand offers this observation on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was in his home state of New Hampshire this week: “She needs to come to New Hampshire again and not talk to the political base, but talk to those who have their doubts. She needs to visit more places where people don’t know in advance she’s coming. She needs to take questions, she needs to be challenged about the things that will be uncomfortable for her — like Benghazi and secretary of state email accounts, if that’s what people want to talk about.”
Datebook: Sen. Tom McGee, D-Lynn, and Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, will host a meeting on MBTA services Thursday, May 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Marblehead Council on Aging, 10 Humphrey St. Interim T general manager Frank DePaola is expected to attend. And the best news of the week: NFL schedulers announced this week that the New England Patriots will open the 2015 season with a game at Gillette Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10. Better news: It’s on national TV, so can be seen here in Arizona, where the game starts at the much more civilized hour of 5:30 p.m.