Patrick talks about potholes instead of helping elders


By Al Norman

I recently attended a rally on Beacon Hill on the subject of raising tax revenues in Massachusetts.

More than 400 people crammed into Gardner Auditorium in the basement of the State House. At least 100 of those people were from the elder home care system. Some people wore signs which read, “End the home care waiting lists.” Another large sign said, “Invest in Home Care.” Scattered throughout the crowd were human services workers from day care programs, personal care attendants, and attendants for individuals with disabilities.

alnorman_headshotOne of the featured speakers was Gov. Deval Patrick. Surrounded by all those people who work with children, the elderly and the disabled, I expected the governor to say something about the role of government in protecting the most vulnerable among us. But that’s not what the governor came to talk about. He had something else on his mind.


“I was out on the Pike during the blizzard,” the governor began. He described the need to keep up the maintenance on our roads, and added: “The reason we get to depend (on the Pike) is because our grandparents gave us that … because our grandparents made decisions in their time about what to invest in to make their lives and ours better … The question now is, whether we are prepared in our time to do for the next generation what our grandparents did for us?” The governor went on to describe our need for a 21st century transportation system. “We need roads that aren’t so filled with potholes … we need safe bridges.”

I looked around the room. Had I wandered into a rally of highway engineers or DPW workers? Or construction companies?

The governor told us we needed to have a “grown up conversation about what kind of Commonwealth we want to have.” He said “the folks who are more fortunate, I don’t think it is wrong to ask them to contribute according to their ability to pay. That is something I learned from my grandparents and from my parents. I learned that from whom much is given, much is expected.”

I was thinking what I learned from my parents. That when you get old, sometimes you need help. Sometimes families cannot provide such help by themselves. I watched my mother take care of my father during his 15 year battle with Parkinson’s. I watched my brother’s wife take care of him as he was dying from leukemia. I learned from my wife that she could drive up to Northern Vermont to help keep her aunt living at home as long as possible.

There are a lot of life lessons we learn in families. But I did not hear any of that in Gardner auditorium from our governor, He told the crowd, “This is the moment to do for another generation what our grandparents did for us.”

I looked up at the sign in the back of the auditorium which read: “Invest in Home Care.” But the governor had come to talk about potholes — not the elderly home care budget — which he had level-funded once again.

In a middle of a crowed and noisy rally, it was a very empty moment for me.

Al Norman is the executive director of Mass Home Care. He can be reached at 978-502-3794, or at