SALEM — Gov. Charlie Baker
gave the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development an update Tuesday on efforts to reform the MBTA after the snow debacle of the Winter
of 2015, then added a personal reflection on battling the Opioid Addiction Crisis
Baker, a Swampscott resident, gave a talk that was at times lighthearted, at times emotional, and at times full of policy initiatives for a gathering of business people, college officials and lawmakers at the Marsh Hall Dining Common at Salem State University.
Those in attendance stood and applauded him at the end.
Salem State president Patricia Meservey, who serves as the alliance's chairwoman, introduced Baker, alluding to his scheduled discussion of MBTA reform.
"I'm tempted to go to the jokes about snow," Meservey said. The tough winter provided a test of Baker's leadership shortly after becoming governor, she noted. "It showed a great deal about what we could expect about his leadership as we went through that difficult winter."
Baker, in turn, joked that "our winter resiliency plan worked so well, this past winter we only had 30 inches of snow."
"It was obviously a big 'gotcha' moment for public transportation and for the transit system generally," he added, in looking back at the winter before last. He credited the Legislature for recognizing the "bellwether opportunity" to make reforms.
'Just didn't stick'
Baker also discussed the need to battle the state's opioid Addiction Crisis
, a focus he gained during town hall meetings when he was running for governor in 2014. People would come up to him, knowing he was "a Health Care
guy," he said.
Baker is the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and former state secretary of Health and Human Services in the 1990s. Everywhere he went, he said, people began to tell him stories of loved ones, friends or neighbors who were either battling addiction, in recovery or lost.
"I can't tell you how many tears were shed in front of me, over and over and over again, over the course of the campaign by people telling me their stories," Baker said.
The problem hit home for him when he thought about his oldest son, Charlie, 25, who played football in college as a defensive end, and who took pain pills while playing.
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