Governor Deval Patrick joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan for his monthly installment of "Ask the Gov" on Boston Public Radio, where he weighed in on everything from the controversial St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston to the quality of the snacks on Air Force One.
Late-Night MBTA Service To Debut March 28
Night owls, rejoice: late-night MBTA weekend service will debut March 28th on a one-year trial run basis.
Patrick touted the expanded service hours as a necessary reform to keep Boston competitive with other major cities, especially in terms of attracting competitive young graduates. "A world class city has a subway system that keeps the hours we need," he said.
The trial - which will cost the state approximately $20 million dollars - was made possible by the state's partnership with private organizations and companies who co-sponsored, Patrick said.
On Lifting the Charter School Cap
Governor Patrick weighed in on legislation currently before the Education Committee to lift the cap on charter school spending in Massachusetts. As the law stands, spending on charter schools is limited to 18% of the school budget in underperforming districts and 10% in all other districts.
"I don't, as you know, think [charter schools] are the sole solution to all that ails us," Patrick said. "I think the more innovation and flexibility we see in the district schools, the better results in the district schools we'll be getting."
Nevertheless, Patrick noted he has been the only governor in thirty years to raise the charter cap, and was cautiously optimistic that a bill raising caps would emerge from the Education Committee. "I am hopeful there will be a bill," he said.
Bringing Women to the Table
In a state with an infamously lackluster record on electing women to leadership positions, what can the government do to bring more women to the table? Patrick pointed to a new initiative, announced Wednesday at Bentley University, to raise the number of women in public sector leadership.
The initiative includes a $1 million grant to place graduate-level women in management positions in state and quasi-public organizations. Patrick also hopes to boost the number of women in private-sector management positions by creating a task-force to give his administration actionable recommendations.
"All of us who have had opportunities have had the chance to try things out, to be mentored, to be coached." said Patrick. "We've got to be intentional about opening up, in the case of women, that talent pool."
Patrick estimates that, in his own administration, women hold 51% of positions at the manager level and 46-47% at the senior level.
"Things Change Slowly": On the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade
With St. Patrick's Day on the horizon, Governor Patrick weighed in on the controversial decision by South Boston organizers not to allow openly gay marchers in their parade celebrating the holiday.
"I like the people who organize the parade," the Governor said. "I have tremendous respect and try to support the folks who have been excluded from the parade for the very good work that they do."
Though Patrick believes the majority of the public is in favor of a more inclusive celebration, he predicted they may have to wait to get one. "Things move slowly," he said.
In the meantime, Patrick maintained that this year's parade would not leave a permanent mark on Massachusetts's record on equality. "We have fortunately a strong and well-earned and deserved reputation as a commonwealth for being an open place," he said. "I don't think the parade blots out that reputation."
New Digs for Governor Patrick - The White House?
Governor Patrick's appearance alongside President Barack Obama on the president's recent tour of New England had some asking: is a 2016 run for Patrick in the works? Not surprisingly, the Governor remained noncommittal on the prospect of a presidential run. "I have no plan to make a plan," he joked.
Still, inquiring minds want to know: what's the swankiest part of taking a trip on the President's airplane, Air Force One? Patrick joked that, with the short length of the trip from Hartford to Boston, he didn't have a chance to test out all the amenities. "There was no time to go to the bathroom, or have a drink for that matter!" he exclaimed. But despite the short duration of the trip, Patrick didn't come away from his jaunt on Air Force One empty-handed.
"I got some Hershey's Kisses with the presidential seal," he said.