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Silber for Governor

Dissenting Opinions

By Kristine M. Zaleskas

"THESE are the times that try mens' souls..." Well, maybe not. But these are certainly the times that try the pocketbooks of Massachusetts families. The state of the economy is the central issue facing the Commonwealth's citizenry, with a conspicuous lack of leadership, increases in crime and the decline of education trailing in its wake.

The past eight years have been characterized chiefly by fiscal mismanagement and waste on the part of those on Beacon Hill. A deficit conservatively estimated at upwards of a billion dollars, a bond rating--already the lowest in the country--teetering on the brink of junk bond status, declining real estate values, 100,000 lost jobs and an economy spiraling headfirst into recession have been the results of their efforts.

In considering which candidate should next occupy the governor's office, the capacity to change the status quo should be foremost in everyone's minds. Quite simply, drastic times require drastic measures; and if Data Resources Inc./McGraw Hill (DRI), the nation's most respected economic forecasters, are to be believed, these are indeed the most dire of times.

Democrat John Silber is the candidate most likely to implement the change Massachusetts so desperately requires. We endorse Silber and his running mate Marjorie Clapprood for governor and lieutenant governor.

Silber has demonstrated precisely the administrative abilities, both in terms of intelligence and courage, which the next governor must have. During his tenure as president of Boston University, Silber turned a financially crippled institution completely around, augmenting its standing in the educational community, significantly expanding the breadth and quality of its programs, eliminating its initial debt and increasing its net worth more than 10 times over.

Silber's political courage goes unquestioned. He has proven himself to be a person who says what he means and does what he believes to be necessary. In the true spirit of philosophical (as opposed to politically expedient) inquiry, he has shown that he is not afraid to question even the most fundamental of political assumptions.

If the Commonwealth's fortunes are to change for the better, it is precisely this type of (rare) politician--one who does not cater his or her speech or actions with an eye to the polls--that will be necessary on Beacon Hill.

THE Republican candidate for governor, William Weld '66, while undoubtably intelligent (summa cum laude Harvard College and Harvard Law) and highly regarded as a lawyer and federal prosecutor, has not proven himself to be as adept an administrator. For example while Weld was U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, his department's budget grew by 87 percent and its staff by 40 percent over five years.

Weld's support for Question 3, the Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) tax and fee rollback intiative, raises further questions about both his economic judgment and his confidence in his ability to restructure state government. According to DRI, "passage and implementation of the CLT intiative would render the current Massachusetts recession longer than it needs to be, and the negative impacts will linger at least through fiscal year 1995."

Fearing its disastrous effects on education, educational authorities, including the presidents of Harvard, Tufts, Boston College and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, strongly oppose the CLT intiative. Silber has consistently held a principled stance against both the passage of Question 3, choosing to rely instead on his proven ability to eliminate bureaucratic waste.

Moreover, should the electorate vote in favor of the CLT intiative, Silber has vowed to block permanently its implementation with all the legal means at his disposal. Weld has refused to do likewise. The staff's support for Weld is contradictory in light of its strong opposition to Question 3.

In reference to crime, Silber, who has received the endorsement of the vast majority of police organizations, has advocated a ban on assault weapons and opposed the death penalty, which he believes is racist, except in the most exceptional cases. Weld holds the opposite stance on both issues.

Both candidates support a woman's right to abortion--Weld unequivocally and Silber on the "Cuomo Principle," personally opposed, but in favor of the legal right to choose.

On education and civil rights issues, Silber holds an edge based on his record of achievement. He has a long and distinguished history as a Kant scholar and educator, both at the University of Texas and Boston University. He also has proposed significant restructuring and refinancing of the Commonwealth's school system--a plan modeled on Boston University's adoption of the Chelsea school district.

Silber's record on civil rights date back to his vocal opposition to segregation at the University of Texas. According to the Bay State Banner, a newspaper serving Boston's minority community, Silber is a "visionary...his long record as a civil rights leader merit[s] the supports of blacks and progressives."

Much has been made of Silber's autocratic nature. Detractors also point to the much bally-hooed "Silber Shockers" as further evidence of his unelectability. Though we by no means endorse all of Silber's provacative comments, voters should not believe the hype. If Silber is elected, Massachusetts need not worry about the imposition of tyranical dictatorial government unless the State Legislature, and the State and Federal Courts disappear from the face of the earth.

The state of Massachusetts is not Boston University. Silber could not (even if, and that's a big if, he wanted to) abolish individual rights by decree. His critics hysterical assertions are essentially red herrings; they border on the moot simply because such a parade of horribles cannot be implemented by any governor. Rather than slavishly follow the media's largely irresponsible soundbite fixations, the citizens of the Commonwealth should see in Silber the administrative ability, intelligence, courage and leadership of which Massachusetts is in such dire need.

Weld, in contrast, lacks a proven record of successful administrative ability and has never served in elected office. The slickness of his campaign, the rehearsed political-ese in which he speaks, and his past associations with arch-conservatives all lend suspicion to both the genuineness of his newly acquired moderate positions and his ability to effect the changes necessary in Massachusetts.

We thus endorse John Silber for governor.

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