Why I like Deval Patrick for governor of Massachusetts


I just got this email. For those who don't know, Deval Patrick is running for governor of Mass. I'm a big fan, and here's why. I've bolded some of the key sentences but otherwise, am printing in full:




Dear Friends,

I am writing today to let you know about my decision to resign from the Board of Ameriquest's parent company. I want you to hear from me directly before you read about this in the newspaper tomorrow.

As you know, I believe that leadership is more than grand announcements. It's more than press conferences and photo ops. Sometimes leadership is the slow, steady, unglamorous work of making reform real.

That is the kind of leadership that I brought to Texaco, where I helped transform their employment practices in the wake of devastating allegations of workplace discrimination. That is the kind of leadership I brought to Coca-Cola, where I was involved in steering the company through a crisis of public confidence in its internal control and accounting processes. And that is the kind of leadership I brought to Ameriquest, when I was asked to join the board of its parent company in 2004. Ameriquest was facing very serious charges about its lending practices at the time. I became a part of the solution.

I have spent a lifetime fighting against discriminatory lending practices. Here in Massachusetts, I led the charge over a decade ago against predatory lending that targeted elderly and African-American borrowers, achieving the first statewide settlement and also mediating subsequent cases by appointment of Scott Harshbarger. As the head of the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Justice Department under President Clinton, I implemented the most far-reaching fair lending enforcement program in American history. Millions of people got a fair chance to own a home because of the work we did.

So when officials of Ameriquest asked me to help them learn from their mistakes and institute internal changes to ensure that unfair lending does not occur again, I was glad to join the company's board. I served as the board's point person for the company's management in their negotiations with attorneys general from 49 states and helped the company reach an agreement that both holds Ameriquest accountable for past behavior and sets new industry standards for all lenders. I have also been involved in review and development of the company's efforts to improve its internal oversight and controls. There is more to do. But these changes will place Ameriquest at the forefront of transparency and accountability in the sub-prime lending market. Since that's the fastest growing segment of the lending industry, that's good news for working families. I am very proud of that.

No company is immune from general economic trends and Ameriquest was hit hard by the recent slowdown in home sales and refinancings. Just two weeks ago, the company announced it was closing all its branches across the country and consolidating operations in its four servicing centers. Layoffs resulted, including some employees here in Massachusetts. But instead of leaving our folks to fend for themselves, I went to work. I am pleased that every one of those employees has an opportunity to join a rival lender. Employees who are losing their jobs through no fault of their own now have a means to cushion the blow.

The sad reality is that the same economic realities that are squeezing Ameriquest's business are also squeezing Massachusetts families. At times like these, mortgage foreclosures tend to increase. That's why I am pleased that Ameriquest will bring credit counseling and foreclosure avoidance programs to Massachusetts that the company has developed elsewhere, and has offered to partner with Mayor Thomas Menino's task force on foreclosure avoidance in Boston. These are tangible ways that, by rolling up my sleeves, I have tried to help keep hard-pressed families from losing their homes.

I understood from the outset that my work with Ameriquest would make some people uncomfortable. Progressives are sometimes uncomfortable in principle with people who work for large companies. Political rivals try to make it an issue. But leadership to effect real change sometimes requires more than a critique from the outside. Sometimes it requires that you bring your judgment and your conscience inside.

Unfortunately, that spirit is largely missing from our current political culture. Many of our political leaders prefer to concentrate on getting and keeping office rather than performing the hard work of devising real solutions to our most difficult challenges. That's why we need a change.

Ameriquest is on a path to be a better company now. The changes I helped develop will make a real and positive difference in the lives of borrowers and in the behavior of the company. Confident that this progress will continue, I will be stepping down from the board. Besides, I have a campaign to win. But my lifelong commitment to fighting discrimination and unfairness is unchanged. I still believe that lasting reform requires good people both outside and inside. Whether at Texaco, Coca-Cola or Ameriquest, I have never left my conscience at the door. And you can count on that when I'm governor, too.

Sincerely,

Deval




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