Editorials 12-10-21

Charlie Baker will be missed

There has been a lot of speculation by the pundits as to the reasons behind Governor Charlie Baker’s decision not to run for re-election in 2022, but we think it comes down simply to this: Gov. Baker is burned-out, similar to so many of his fellow Baby Boomers (including the older members of Generation X) who are retiring from both the public and private sectors amidst what is being called the Great Resignation.

In our mind’s eye, we still think of Gov. Baker as the youthful man from the campaign trail in 2013, but the reality is that Gov. Baker just turned 65 years old.

He ain’t a kid anymore.

And as so many other Baby Boomers are coming to realize, there is a lot more to life than work, especially when work no longer is fun. 

We think it is telling that Lieut. Governor Karyn Polito — who at 55 is a Gen Xer — also announced that she has no plans to run for governor, which was actually more surprising than Gov. Baker’s announcement. The Lieut. Gov., who is part of the Baker team that consistently has been among the most-popular governorships in the country,  would have been a strong candidate to make history as the first female governor in state history.

But after eight years as an highly-active Lieut. Gov., it is clear that Polito has no desire to occupy the corner office at the State House.

But regardless of Gov. Baker’s reasons for not seeking re-election, there is no disputing that Charlie Baker has been a great governor who has accomplished great things for our state, even amidst an unprecedented pandemic. 

His ability to work with Democrats in the Mass. legislature, amidst an era of unprecedented political rancor at the national level, will be regarded as a shining example for future governors, regardless of party, to follow.

Throw the book at them

Another news cycle — and yet another mass shooting incident in America.

The horrific murder last week of at least four students at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit and the wounding of several others by 15 year-old fellow student Ethan Crumbley once again has brought unspeakable tragedy to a community in our country.

However, there is an additional twist to this story, which we will compartmentalize as follows, based on the facts as we know them:

— The semi-automatic handgun used by Ethan Crumbley was brought for him as a Christmas present by his parents a few days before the shooting;

— When a teacher became aware that Ethan Crumbley was drawing photos depicting violence by gunfire during class, Crumbley was taken to the office of a guidance counselor;

— The guidance counselor called Crumbley’s parents, who came to the school, because of his disturbing images;

— The parents never informed any school authority that they had bought their son a handgun as a “Christmas gift”; 

— The parents insisted that Ethan remain at school that day.

The parents have been charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter for their alleged role in the murders. The local district attorney has conceded that the prosecution of the parents presents novel questions of law. 

If it is true that the parents did not divulge to the school authorities that they had bought their son a handgun, the question will be whether that omission makes them criminally liable for what transpired shortly after they left the school without their son.

No right-thinking person would deny that the parents are morally-culpable for not disclosing to school personnel that they had bought their son a gun, even if they believed that the gun was in a locked box at home.  

We also believe that if they had made that fact known, the student’s backpack and locker would have been searched immediately by school personnel and the tragedy could have been avoided. But does this make the parents criminally-liable?

Whether Michigan law encompasses a charge for involuntary manslaughter given the facts of this case ultimately will be decided by that state’s highest court, but we support the decision by the district attorney to bring the charges.

If nothing else, hopefully it will deter like-minded parents from buying guns for their children. And if the courts determine that the parents are not criminally-liable, perhaps legislatures will pass laws that do so in circumstances such as these.

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