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Massachusetts Gov. Baker trades a high profile gig for another; Healey continues to build cabinet

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is taking his professional game to the NCAA.
File photo
Massachusetts Governor's Office
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is taking his professional game to the NCAA.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will take on another high profile job after he leaves office in January, as his successor, Maura Healey continues to appoint members of her cabinet.

Charlie Baker will become the next president of the NCAA college sports governing body. He starts that new job in March, just a couple of months after wrapping up eight years leading Massachusetts. Matt Murphy from the State House News Service explains that the question of why Baker took the job is still an open one.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: I think the reason this caught a lot of people by surprise is one, seeing the governor jump from this world of politics and government and health care that he's been immersed in throughout his career into sports was a bit jarring, though, when you take some time to think about it, running an organization like this perhaps makes some sense for someone with the governor's skill set. But he had given the impression that he was ready to sort of ease into a slower pace of life, expecting a grandchild in the new year. But he is, by taking this job, jumping right into the fire of an organization that needs a lot of work. This is going to be a huge challenge for him. And it also probably comes with a pretty good paycheck.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Well, as Baker prepares his exit, governor-elect Maura Healey is putting together her team among a few moves. Last week, Healey tapped Patrick Tutwiler to be her education secretary. What can you tell us about Tutwiler and how is his appointment being received?

Tutwiler is someone who adds some diversity right away to the governor elect's cabinet, something that, she has said she has an interest in doing, something that advocates have been pressuring her to do, as well as he brings a diverse set of experiences in the education sector, both in the nonprofit world and actually running public schools. He was a former superintendent of the Lynn Public School System. So far, the reaction to his appointment has been positive. Advocates seem to like it. The unions are on board. They're impressed with his credentials and the experience that he brings to the office.

And just this past weekend, Governor-elect Healey was talking about how she wants him to focus on diversity of the educator workforce, bringing more diverse teachers into the K-12 system, as well as helping schools beef up their college readiness programs, earning early credits while still in high school for college and building that pipeline. So, he's got a lot of work in front of him. But so far, the reaction to his appointment has been positive.

Healey also created a new cabinet level position of climate chief. So what can you tell us about that job and Healey's appointee, Melissa Hoffer?

Yeah. Hoffer You know, someone who has worked with Healey in the attorney general's office, as well as in the Biden administration, as deputy counsel in the Environmental Protection Agency. She brings awealth of experience in environmental law to this position, and this is something new. We expect that the governor-elect, once she takes the oath of office, she'll be signing an executive order to create this position within her administration. It's brand new. It's going to report direct to the governor and her portfolio is going to be a very broad. She's going to be basically tasked with driving the state's climate goals across government. That's working with all of the different executive branch offices, all of the secretariats, to make sure that everything they're doing is furthering the state's goal and the governor-elect's goal of net zero emissions by 2050, fully electric transportation system and 100% clean electricity by 2030. So, these are ambitious goals that Governor-elect Healey has set, and this is someone who's going to be coordinating those efforts to make sure that the state stays on track.

And interesting news yesterday from an interview on WGBHRadio, Healey confirmed her office will not claim an exemption to the state's public records law. Now, that is a break from past governors. Can you explain that move and what it could mean?

That is a break from past governors, and Healey has long said that she does not think any government agency should be able to claim a blanket exemption from public records laws. And in the past, both Democrats and Republicans, we've seen governors claim this exemption. It stems froma court ruling back in the day, and it applies not just to the governor's office but to the legislature and to the courts. Healey saying that not only was she not (going to) claim this exemption for her office, but she hopes to work with the Legislature and support legislation that would open the Legislature and the courts, at least partially, to a public records law.

And what this means essentially, is that the public and the media should be able to (and we'll see how this plays out) gain some access to what goes on in the executive office. Of course, agencies throughout government and the administration, the MBTA, those agencies have long been subject to public records law, but the governor's direct office has not. And we see access to correspondence, planning documents that get insight into some of the thinking and the decision-making processes that are going on in the governor's office, as well as who has access to and is writing to and influencing the governor's decisions. So, this could be, and I stress could, a big breakthrough in transparency in Massachusetts government.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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