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State House Shuffle

Governor Deval Patrick is bringing in some help after a rocky first weeks on the job. Among other personnel changes announced Thursday, Patrick is hiring a top aide to the Senate President as well as an experienced Executive Office spokesman, while the chief-of-staff for Patrick's wife has resigned. WBUR's Fred Thys has more on the shakeup.TEXT OF STORY

FRED THYS: Political advisor Dan Payne, who worked for Patrick in the first months of his campaign, says he has three words in response to the staff shakeup:

DAN PAYNE: It's about time. The Governor's last nine weeks have been like driving down some Boston streets filled with potholes: plenty of bumps and a flat tire, but no lasting damage, but he needs help to find smooth pavement.

FRED THYS: Payne says Patrick will have to make many more changes in his staff if he is to recover from the public relations missteps of leasing a Cadillac, ordering 12-thousand-dollar drapes for his office, calling Citibank on behalf of a former business associate looking for a corporate loan, and hiring a chief of staff for his wife, Diane, at 72-thousand dollars a year. The chief of staff has resigned. Aides to the governor say there won't be any more immediate staffing changes besides the two top aides brought in. David Morales has worked as a senior aide for Senate President Robert Travaglini. He is expected to build relations with legislators. Joe Landolfi is a veteran government spokesman. He will run the governor's day-to-day communications strategy. Landolfi concedes that Patrick has not had a smooth road.

JOE LANDOLFI: I think the distractions are bumps in the road that are fairly common with any new administration have distracted from the significant accomplishments that the governor has had.

FRED THYS: Landolfi points to the governor's proposed budget, which he says closes a 1.3-billion-dollar deficit without raising taxes. And Patrick can also claim credit for pushing insurance companies to come up with health plans that offer lower premiums in exchange for higher deductibles as a way of drawing people of modest means into the state's mandatory health insurance system. Patrick's public relations problems since taking office have been attributed in part to the lack of political experience of some of his senior aides. But some people who have worked with the governor, and who have observed him interact with his aides, say he's a policy guy who objects when people bring up political considerations or attribute political motives to him. Patrick's senior campaign advisor and current consultant, Doug Rubin, says Patrick gets into the politics as well.

DOUG RUBIN: He does. He's very involved in the details of the policy and in the implementation and the execution of that. I think that's been his style in the campaign, and also his style as governor.

FRED THYS: A Patrick aide agrees that the governor is actually very engaged in political discussions, and adds that perhaps what's needed is someone who can advise him on the impact in the State House of what he says and does, both with the legislature and with the press.

This program aired on March 16, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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