05 January 2006

Two Potential MA Governors

cross-posted at Blue Mass Group

What are we, as potential voters in the 2006 race, supposed to make of Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) and Atty. General Thomas Reilly (D)? Well, on the issue of privacy, this morning's Globe shows where both might be expected to come down. First, Healey is supporting New Bedford's plan to begin drug-testing at its public schools, starting at age 11. Healey is backing the New Bedford program and said the city's decision to start drug testing could be a model for other communities.

Let's see where Democratic frontrunner Reilly stands on another clear privacy issue, this time a battle over the release of private medical records, which could reveal whether an underage girl was intoxiacted when she died:
These are private medical records, and they were not public records and should not be released," Reilly said last night on ''Greater Boston" on WGBH-TV.

Asked about his involvement, Reilly added: ''I've had many conversations with district attorneys on cases, but, first and foremost, it was the family and the suffering they'd gone [through]. This shouldn't have even gotten this far; this family suffered enough."
Reilly, as AG, is the state's top prosecutor. And yet, here he is, standing up for the privacy of a victim and standing in the way of a possible convinction. Often, an AG seeking higher office would jump on this the other way, demanding justice at every turn, laws and principles be damned.

You'll find no such principled argument from Healey. Drug-testing in public schools, acceded to by parents or not, is a lame attempt to pander to every parent's fears when they send their children off to school. For Healey to stand behind this program demonstrates exactly where she'll stand on privacy issues amd education in Massachusetts should she be elected. Right alongside the Republican Congress, which is pushing this program on schools across the country.

A parent summarizes just how indicative this program is of the larger Republican effort to sacrifice civil liberties in favor of a potentialallayance of fear:
Kim Silva's 16-year-old son has straight As, plays sports, and is a diabetic; she said she does not think he's a drug user. Her daughter, who is 10, will not be eligible for the program until next year, but Silva said she is leaning toward signing them up.

What is it going to hurt? she said. I'd rather know. It would make them think twice.
Sounds precisely like the defense we're hearing about illegal wiretaps, no?

I've not made a decision on whether to support Reilly or Deval Patrick in the Democratic primary. I've been satisfied with both of them, though not impressed by either. This morning's news, however, makes it all the more clear that returning the Governor's office to a Democrat is important not just for the big battles like gay marraige and social programs, but for these seemingly small ones. As we've seen on a national scale, if you give an inch on privacy ... you know the rest.

UPDATE: Thanks to several comments at Blue Mass Group, I have to say I looked at this from the wrong angle entirely. The girl's father is a friend and campaign contributor of Reilly's, so there's clearly a potentially suspect motive as well as a prinicpled one. Also, I didn't see the 'Greater Boston' from which the Globe quotes, but it appears that Reilly just stonewalled his interviewer. In respect to Healey, I still obviously think that Reilly's a better choice, but I may have been too willing to praise him in order to blame her.

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