Politics & Government
7:34 am
Wed October 2, 2013

AG Martha Coakley On Lessons Learned, Todashev Killing

Attorney General Martha Coakley joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan for an exit interview on Boston Public Radio.
Attorney General Martha Coakley
Credit WGBH News

Boston Public Radio hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan have been speaking with each of the candidates runnig for Governor of Massachusetts in 2014. On Tuesday, they were joined by the latest person to join the field: Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Have you done one interview where someone hasn't said how horrible your campaign was against Scott Brown? Do you really think you ran a rotten campaign?

Well, I think there are a lot of factors, but the first one for me was to acknowledge we made mistakes- I made mistakes. And, look, I learned from them Jim. I got right back to work, and I've run statewide since then successfully. And I do think that people who run and who lose- you learn more sometimes.

What are the things that you've learned that you are either correctly or doing differently?

I learned in a special election, for instance, that time is compressed. You have to focus on doing a lot of things at the same time. And maybe you don't do them all as well as you should. Keeping touch with people, you know, meeting with the activists, and working the retail piece of it, being out talking to folks.

I look forward to this race because this is an opportunity with a longer race, and I've already gotten a great start talking to people who are active in the Democratic party and talking out on the street as I did for three days all over Massachusetts . People are interested in this. They want a good Governor, they've got a lot of good ideas about where we should go.

How did you manage the disappointment of the race? How did you come back?

What I actually did was get back to work, frankly. I have jokingly said "How else was I going to get on Saturday Night Live?"

I got back to work to do the kinds of things that I run for office for. Keeping people in their homes, fighting the big banks, making sure that we passed a human trafficking bill. And this is what drives me to do the work we get to do. And so, I learned that in that race, that people want to see that, they want to hear it. And I think they want to see and hear that in a Governor, and I'm prepared to do that. I know I've got to make up some ground, but I'm moving ahead and I'm gonna roll up my sleeves and meet everybody who's interested in where Massachusetts is going.

You won the primary by 19 points. I think that was such a shock that a Republican had a chance.

I think that a lot of elections in peoples' perceptions are about expectations. That's why I'm starting this with none, I have no expectations except that I'm gonna work really hard.

Watch The Whole Interview:

Is your husband gong to be an active part of this campaign?

Absolutely. And we talked a lot this summer about what the race would mean and everything that we would have to do together. I said look, I'd like to do this, but I'm not doing this unless you want to do it and you think we should do it. He has been gung ho, he's been out with me he;s enjoying it. He's in this race, and hes enjoying it.

Give us a couple of concrete things that you'd do as Governor to make it work for the middle class and the working poor.

Sure. Well, Wall Street is doing very well, and we're in a good position to see that. We're still fielding phone calls from people every day that are about to be foreclosed upon. We've got a real crisis coming with flood mortgage insurance right on the horizon because FEMA is re-doing the maps across the country and they're taking away the subsidy that they now get so that peoples' flood insurance is affordable. I spent Saturday morning down in Scituate with about 220 people, many of who are going to have their homes foreclosed upon because they will not be able to go from about $800 a year to $20,000 a year...

That's the kind of thing when the federal government or a big corporation does something- maybe because they're too big to care, I don't know- we're the ones that step in and try to make it work. And so we need to make sure that when Congress acts, or agencies act, or the state acts, or the economy turns around on Wall Street that people in the middle class who want to build equity, who want to send their kids to college are gonna be able to continue to do it. And never forgetting the poorest folks- the people who are at the bottom.- sometimes you think this is about the haves and the have mores.

What can the state do about that? That's a huge responsibility of the feds.

Well, I think that we have to make those decisions about as a society about we care about we will in invest in. Education is obviously one of them. Caring for people and health care is obviously one of them. We have to make it work and we'll find ways to do it.

Where are you on some of these so-called hot button education issues (Charter schools, merit pay for teachers, moving away from some of the union rules)?

First of all, I'm a big believer in having an extended school day. I think we've seen that work. We are about to do that. Most people agree we have to find a way to keep kids in school for a longer period of time for learning. But look at the other benefits you get- you get the afternoon time when kids get into trouble. Or unwanted pregnancies. Or you free up parents who are always worrying about daycare.

I also think we need to change the system sot hat we don't have kids out in time to do the planting and then back in time to do the harvest. I mean we have a school system built on an agrarian schedule and we could do better. Particularly with kids who may struggle with math or English. They may be up to speed in June and then they're off for two and a half plus months. It's harder for them to catch up. We need to modernize what we do in terms of teaching- the way we live, what we know.

I think some of the charter schools have been great. We need that kind of innovation. They also need to be accountable because some of them haven't done so well with their finances. So, we need to be with the teachers unions. I think people going into teaching because they want to teach. That's great. And people go into unions because they want the economic security of it. I don't have a problem with that. And I think that we will figure out how to make this happen.

So merit pay wouldn't be something you find attractive?

No, I'm not against the concept of it, but let's talk about it for a minute. It depends on what you mean by that If you have kids that aren't good students, why should you be disadvantaged? Maybe we should have merit pay for the teachers who teach in the tougher schools where kids are farther behind, who need more work. So let's talk about how we provide the right incentives for teachers.

The ACLU approached you to investigate the killing of Ibragim Todashev. Why did you refuse to do it?

I didn't refuse to do it. I simply don't have the authority or jurisdiction. If we had that happen in Middlesex County when I was DA, I would have done that investigation. So, I was glad to hear that the Florida District Attorney said he is undertaking that under investigation.

I know there is great concern about that. The FBI has said they are doing a review. I assume that will be made available to the DA who is also doing that investigation. If people are not satisfied with the results of that then we'll see what other options we have. (...) An action takes place on property somewhere, and I don't have authority in the state of Florida to review what is potentially a criminal act.

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