Governor Baker’s First Crisis
January 29, 2015
January 29, 2015
As the Blizzard of 2015 bore down on Massachusetts, many of us wondered how newly inaugurated Governor Charlie Baker would handle his first test in crisis planning, courtesy of Mother Nature. Would he hold regular press conferences from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) bunker in Framingham? (He would.) Would Baker don former Governor Patrick’s trademark MEMA vest? (He would not.)
The Blizzard was largely good to the new Baker administration. Electrical outages were not as widespread as expected prior to the start of the storm. There was damage to coastal communities, but Baker and his Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito spent time in the hardest-hit seaside towns the day after the storm to demonstrate they’re concerned about the damage and the residents who live in these areas. Boston and Worcester continue to dig out from the mess.
Baker’s regular press conferences from the MEMA headquarters were illuminating. On Monday night, Baker approached the podium in a sharp suit–very different from Patrick’s business-casual MEMA vest. During the storm, he appeared in a half-zip sweater. When a reporter asked why he’d dressed more casually, Baker quipped, “It’s a snow day. I’m dressed for a snow day.” He seemed at ease with the media, and was quick to let his cabinet heads answer specific questions from the reporters in the room.
As Eastern Massachusetts emerges from two feet of snow, things are somewhat back to normal. The MBTA is running. Roads are open, if still snow-packed. Baker continues to update residents about steps the state is taking to return things to normal. His calm, methodical approach prevented a bad situation from being worse. It set an encouraging tone for how his administration will handle the challenges ahead.