Opponents of Reform: Infinitely Resilient

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The state’s plan to water down the MCAS test teaches us once again that those with an interest in opposing reform are infinitely patient and resourceful. That is why they very often win.
We learned this, for example, when the MBTA instituted “management rights” in 1980. A great victory — until 18 years, in 1998, when many of these rights were gutted in a new contract Governor Cellucci approved during his campaign against Scott Harshbarger.
I learned this in covering Amtrak for many years. The Clinton administration approved a plan that was to make Amtrak self-sustaining by 2002. The Bush-43 administration implemented some cost-saving measures proposed by the Amtrak Reform Council, and would not approve increased federal funding without state participation.
But in one of the last acts of his life, Sen. Edward Kennedy successfully pushed a new labor contract that saved or restored practices such as six years’ severance for laid off workers. Today, the inefficiencies of the 1970’s are largely intact, and billions are being spent on politically-decided “high-speed rail” that won’t see a single rider without untold more billions spent in the future.
I have never regarded the MCAS, which is very lucrative for its provider, as inviolate in present form. Refinements, cost-savings and improvements are what reform is all about. But what we are seeing presently is a sham bespeaking the determination of the opponents of reform to have their way no matter how long it takes. It is important to understand that.