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The Hiller Instinct

Gov. Patrick's cabinet shake-up

Just for a moment, think of state government as a car.

They're not really that different--both need a lot of parts to work together to keep running smoothly. And if a key part breaks, the car (or government) slows down, or stops.

The governor can be the accelerator, the steering wheel, or just the horn. But no matter how much political horsepower he has, he can't make the government run by himself.

That's where the cabinet comes in, and that's why I'd say this is the last day of the Deval Patrick administration as we've known it.

Cabinet secretaries are the pistons of government's engine.

Pistons transform energy into motion, and it's the cabinet's job to transform the governor's priorities and proposals into action and laws.

Without pistons, nothing moves.

The governor has already announced he's not running again and now his cabinet has collapsed, with four of its eight members leaving.

And what were those four in charge of? Money, health care, public safety and education--the biggest issues on Beacon Hill.

So, from here on, Governor Patrick will look the same, and even sound the same, but he won't be heard the same way...or looked at the same way.

Yes, he still has a fine future in Washington or the private sector, but, at the State House, the gears of his government are now in neutral.