Blue Mass. Group's Charley on the MTA calls for a grass-roots effort to abolish the singular Massachusetts sensation of mandating that police officers (instead of mere civilians) stand guard at utility repair and construction sites along public roads:
Now, $5 million/year that the state spends on the details is not that big a deal, although it may add up to many times that when you include local roads. But this is the test case for all the other important, cost-saving reforms that [Senate President Therese] Murray has proposed. If the legislature rolls over for the police unions (again), then come the MBTA unions, with their cushy pension deal. Then come the toll collectors. Then come the contractors, who don't want the stricter oversight that Murray's bill would provide.
The police detail issue, though unknown in the rest of the country, has been inflaming passions for years in Massachusetts. It came up at MassINC's "Municipal Meltdown" forum in December (see transcript), where anti-tax activist Barbara Anderson referred to the "the policeman with the coffee and the donut in the other hand watching the hole being dug" and Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer countered that "on the scale where the real [fiscal] problems are, that’s a blip."