160122-MO-ME.mp3

Two of Massachusetts most powerful public servants delivered speeches this past week hoping to make their mark on the city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by touting their accomplishments and spelling out their hopes for the year ahead.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh marked the midpoint of his term as Mayor of the City of Boston with his State of the City address Tuesday night.

While Governor Charlie Baker addressed the State Legislature during his first State of the Commonwealth address Thursday evening.

WGBH’s Morning Edition host Bob Seay spoke with two Boston area professors who closely follow these events, and who are contributors to the WGBH online blog MasspoliticsProfs.

Maurice Cunningham is an Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Boston and discussed with Seay Governor Baker's comments and his ideas for a  forward-looking government.

Professor Peter Ubertaccio of Stonehill college, is an Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Programs and the Director of the Joseph Martin Institute for Law and Society, and he joined Seay to  discuss the address given by Marty Walsh.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's State of The City Address

In his State of the City address, Mayor Walsh spoke about the lowering crime rate, improving education programs, raising the minimum wage, and his plan for a 2030 successful affordable housing program.

On the crime rate, Walsh pointed to the falling crime rate and how homicides in the city are at a 16-year low with 72 percent of them being solved.

Ubertaccio says Boston has had a very successful strategy in dealing with violent crime. He says Mayors generally will take credit for a lower crime rate, even if the trend began during someone else’s watch. He says Boston has seen the trend moving downward for a longtime and it started a longtime ago, before Walsh took office.

The Mayor said the city is as strong as it's ever been.  Ubertaccio says, “Mayor Walsh is making his own mark on Boston. He’s doing things that are not quite as flashing as the beloved late mayor Tom Menino, such as his strategic initiative for the city which is important for the long-term growth of the city. His arts initiative is something he has championed, and it’s going to go a long way to create a better economy for the city. He succeeded a giant in Boston and that’s not easy to follow.”  

160122-MO-ME.mp3

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's State of the Commonwealth

It was an impressive moment in the career of Governor Charlie Baker ...who's become one of the most popular governors in the country, receiving a 74 percent approval rating in a recent poll, one of the highest of all U-S governors.

Speaking before a joint session of the State Legislature, Baker praised the lack of political divisiveness seen in his first year noting that some “have lamented how boring we are. That makes me smile…no fights, no yelling, no partisan scrums.”

Cunningham says, “getting down to the business of governance and putting aside the bickering is exactly what people want, and this is partly reflective why he is as popular as he is in Massachusetts.”

The governor laid out a list of customer service issues he’s accomplished, from the MBTA, to the DMV, to improving education and battling the opioid crisis.

 

Improving public transportation has been the first item on the Governor’s agenda.  Cunningham says, “there’s a long way to go with the MBTA, which the governor acknowledges and he’s made it a priority.”

The opioid crisis is also another top item on his agenda, and one Baker spoke about directly during his address. The governor went directly after members of the medical profession who prescribe the addictive pain killers.  Cunningham says, “the depth of what the  governor  has learned about the opioid crisis has shown he’s ready to have a conflict with the legislature and his former colleagues in the health care industry to battle the problem.”

 

To listen to the extended interviews with the Professors’ Cunningham and Ubertaccio click on the audio files above.