BOSTON, Mass – Someone asked me to use one word to describe the past six months. I said “weird.”
The same person asked me to rate the performance of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on a scale of 1 –10 during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic span. I said “3.”
Can we agree that at some point during the past six months, Charlie Baker’s decision-making has triggered a wave of anger from all corners of the 6.5 million citizens of the Commonwealth? Some have been mildly affected, while most of us have been whooping mad at him in spurts and stops.
Charlie Baker, because of his subtle, unorthodox power-grab and penchant for imposing strict mandates that he expects local Board of Health departments to enforce, has been cursed and belittled regularly. Some unsavory name-calling includes: “Golf’s Grim Reaper;” “Cavalier King Charles;” “Governor Faker;” “Governor Charlie Parker;” “Governor Overreach;” “Maskachusetts;” “Gaffachusetts;” “Tall Duval;” and more.
Every week, Baker, a Republican elected in 2014, issues new executive orders and this week it affects new gathering and restaurant rules amid his unsubstantiated COVID-19 uptick. Last week he issued the harshest travel restrictions of any other state, while also reducing the parking spaces at Nantasket beach from 1200 to 600.
If the beach is a breeding ground to spread the virus then what about Walmart, Home Depot or Lowes?
Baker usually holds two weekly press conferences- one from the road and one from the State House. The mainstream media headcount can be anywhere from 10-20 and rarely does anyone ask a probing or difficult question. Always respectful, Baker delivers a lengthy canned narrative answer when the going gets tough, and lately he never, ever, talks about the infamous “curve” that he used to use dozens of times in the briefing with media.
Charlie Baker’s Department of Public Health listed the total number of deaths of MA residents under the age of 20 as zero.
Zero deaths from the virus in Massachusetts among those under the age of 20. Massachusetts deaths between the ages of 20 and 29: 17.
Between the ages of 30 and 39: 35 deaths.
In all, of the state’s 8,582 deaths as of this week, exactly 146 have been of people under the age of 50. To date 5,585 of the state’s 8,529 deaths have occurred in nursing homes.
In June, Massachusetts had the highest rate of unemployment at 17.4 %. The July unemployment figures are out and Massachusetts is still the highest at 16.1. If you’re on a public payroll you’re going to be fine financially, but all small business owners in the Bay State face a devastating task to get back on solid financial ground due to poor decisions made by King Baker – the one man wrecking squad for financial solvency. Also, the Bay State has the third highest death rate?
On May 7, Gov. Baker allowed golf courses throughout the Commonwealth to open after shutting down the entire golf industry for 80 days. Massachusetts was the last state to open golf courses and the last place to open driving ranges in June. A total of 35 states (including Connecticut) never closed golf courses because they deemed it a safe recreational activity.
As an occasional participant in the Governor’s briefings at the State House Gardner Auditorium, today Baker seemed noticeably more chilled and relaxed than a few weeks ago. Maybe the summer heat has gotten a grip. Baker is deliberately boring and gives the same old canned answers such as “stop the spread, wear a mask, and the coronavirus does not take the summer off.” Blah…Blah…Blah!
The usually robotic, stoic and somber Governor, showed some personality and actually laughed and shared his thoughts on Massachusetts hosting the biggest sporting event in the world this week at TPC Boston – The FedEx Cup Playoffs – Aug. 20-23.
I asked a series of questions about the golf tournament and Baker seemed genuinely engaged and responded amicably.
“I probably won’t go. As Governor for five years I have never gone and there is no reason to go or not go. If I go to any event it’s usually where there are not many people. Due to my day job (as high-profile Governor) I’m a social distance disaster. And I’ve learned that people come up to me to talk and it’s impossible for me to not draw a crowd. If we go anywhere we practice social distancing. So, basically we spend a lot of time at home and that’s just the way it is right now and I’m used to it.”
What about the golf tournament which features the world’s top players and a live four-day televised broadcast around the world from his home state – Massachusetts?
“That event has been a landmark for the PGA Tour for a long time. One of the many reasons the tournament is great is that the winner has gone on to win the FedEx Cup. The best golfer’s in the world compete. In a traditional year, it would be fun with large enthusiastic and energetic crowds, but this is not a traditional year.”
Will you watch?
“I’ll watch a little bit of it. Look, it may come as a surprise to you (he said smiling) but I’m not a golfer.”
The Northern Trust tees off Thursday August 20-23 offering a $9.5 million purse and $1.7 million to the winner and no spectators will be permitted. It is the first of three tournaments to determine the FedEx Cup champion!