Patrick fine at solving the problem

Murray, the cutest dog in the universe who was taught to speak by the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, looked up at me the other day and told me that he wanted to ask me some questions.

“OK,” I said, “but before you do, I have a question for you. How come we have these wonderful conversations, but you never speak in front of other people?”

“Simple, Pops,” he said. “If I did, there would be thousands of people bothering us all the time. They would all want to come and see the talking dog. You wouldn’t want that. Mom definitely wouldn’t want that — you know how private she is. And I wouldn’t want it. You know, it’s already tough enough being top dog at WAMC.”

“OK, Murray,” I responded to the 18 pounds of muscle and grit. “What is it that you wanted to know?”

“I want to know,” said the cute little guy with the devil ears, “what you talked to Gov. Deval Patrick about the other day. I want to know just why you think the guy is so great.”

With some astonishment, I looked at Murray.

“Murray,” I asked, “Why do you care?”

“All of us dogs care, Pops. I think dogs need to help elect good politicians. You know we want sensitive, good, decent, smart people in office. Is Deval Patrick such a person?”

“Indeed he is, Murray. He’s really pretty special, but his specialness comes with a risk. He’s the kind of man who thinks about policy first and politics second.”

“I don’t understand, Pops. What do you mean?”

“Well, he is so brilliant that he looks at a problem and then he tries to solve it. So many of these other pols are all full of bluster and the only thing they can think about is politics in a more traditional sense. They care about the art of getting re-elected, not really about how to solve problems. Patrick is so smart. He approaches things rationally and logically.”

“Give me a for instance, Pop.”

“OK. For years we all watched the commonwealth spend a fortune assigning very expensive police officers to details where roads were being constructed. We knew that civilians could have done just as well. Finally, Patrick worked with the Legislature to make it happen and, after years of everyone griping about it, he got it done.”

“I’m impressed, Pop. Anything else?”

“OK, here’s another one. Massachusetts folks spend a lot of money across the line in gambling casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey. The governor estimates that this could mean a billion and a half dollars for our depleted state coffers.

He told me that he doesn’t like the idea of people spending their money on gambling. But if we need the money, and he says that some of it should go to help people with compulsive gambling problems, we should not pay for public services in other states. I agree with him on that.

But, he told me that he insists that these gambling establishments should have as their No. 1 priority the hiring of lots of people.

He seems dead set against those ‘Racino’ machines that really suck up people’s money and don’t need people-power to run them. You see, Murray, this is one smart guy, and I gotta tell you, Massachusetts is doing a lot better than most other states. We’re pretty lucky to have this governor. I just hope the folks at the other end of the state are smart enough to know it, too.”

“Thanks Pops,” said the little ball of fur. “You always educate me. Now tell me one more thing. What’s all this fuss about Judge Fredric Rutberg? First I read an editorial in The Eagle that severely chastised the judge for not being tough enough on some folks who had gotten themselves in serious trouble. Then I read an equally devastating column by Clarence Fanto. Boy, was he tough on Rutberg. Do you agree, Pops, do you?”

“Well, Murray, I think the poor judge has problems enough. But answer me this riddle: Who do you think it was who first gave him the nickname, ‘Free ‘em Fred?’ I just don’t want to alienate the guy any more than I already have. He’s never been a fan of mine. I’m sure I’ll get a ticket one of these days. If he’s the judge, I’ll probably end up in state prison.”

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

Originally published by the Berkshire Eagle, 7/17/10

Murray, the cutest dog in the universe who was taught to speak by the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, looked up at me the other day and told me that he wanted to ask me some questions.

“OK,” I said, “but before you do, I have a question for you. How come we have these wonderful conversations, but you never speak in front of other people?”

“Simple, Pops,” he said. “If I did, there would be thousands of people bothering us all the time. They would all want to come and see the talking dog. You wouldn’t want that. Mom definitely wouldn’t want that — you know how private she is. And I wouldn’t want it. You know, it’s already tough enough being top dog at WAMC.”

“OK, Murray,” I responded to the 18 pounds of muscle and grit. “What is it that you wanted to know?”

“I want to know,” said the cute little guy with the devil ears, “what you talked to Gov. Deval Patrick about the other day. I want to know just why you think the guy is so great.”

With some astonishment, I looked at Murray.

“Murray,” I asked, “Why do you care?”

“All of us dogs care, Pops. I think dogs need to help elect good politicians. You know we want sensitive, good, decent, smart people in office. Is Deval Patrick such a person?”

“Indeed he is, Murray. He’s really pretty special, but his specialness comes with a risk. He’s the kind of man who thinks about policy first and politics second.”

“I don’t understand,


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Pops. What do you mean?””Well, he is so brilliant that he looks at a problem and then he tries to solve it. So many of these other pols are all full of bluster and the only thing they can think about is politics in a more traditional sense. They care about the art of getting re-elected, not really about how to solve problems. Patrick is so smart. He approaches things rationally and logically.”

“Give me a for instance, Pop.”

“OK. For years we all watched the commonwealth spend a fortune assigning very expensive police officers to details where roads were being constructed. We knew that civilians could have done just as well. Finally, Patrick worked with the Legislature to make it happen and, after years of everyone griping about it, he got it done.”

“I’m impressed, Pop. Anything else?”

“OK, here’s another one. Massachusetts folks spend a lot of money across the line in gambling casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey. The governor estimates that this could mean a billion and a half dollars for our depleted state coffers.

He told me that he doesn’t like the idea of people spending their money on gambling. But if we need the money, and he says that some of it should go to help people with compulsive gambling problems, we should not pay for public services in other states. I agree with him on that.

But, he told me that he insists that these gambling establishments should have as their No. 1 priority the hiring of lots of people.

He seems dead set against those ‘Racino’ machines that really suck up people’s money and don’t need people-power to run them. You see, Murray, this is one smart guy, and I gotta tell you, Massachusetts is doing a lot better than most other states. We’re pretty lucky to have this governor. I just hope the folks at the other end of the state are smart enough to know it, too.”

“Thanks Pops,” said the little ball of fur. “You always educate me. Now tell me one more thing. What’s all this fuss about Judge Fredric Rutberg? First I read an editorial in The Eagle that severely chastised the judge for not being tough enough on some folks who had gotten themselves in serious trouble. Then I read an equally devastating column by Clarence Fanto. Boy, was he tough on Rutberg. Do you agree, Pops, do you?”

“Well, Murray, I think the poor judge has problems enough. But answer me this riddle: Who do you think it was who first gave him the nickname, ‘Free ‘em Fred?’ I just don’t want to alienate the guy any more than I already have. He’s never been a fan of mine. I’m sure I’ll get a ticket one of these days. If he’s the judge, I’ll probably end up in state prison.”

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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