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EDITORIAL

Three big issues that can – and should – be fixed immediately

First, do no harm to kids with allergies

THE BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS’food service program should carry a warning label: May cause indigestion. According to a review commissioned by the School Department and obtained by the Globe, the program lost more than $21 million over the past eight years due to poor management. And more than money is at stake. Employees described a work environment so hostile that they became emotional when they talked about it. And the program lacks any warning system to alert employees to students with food allergies.

The review came up with more than two dozen proposed reforms that should be implemented immediately. They include fully utilizing federal programs to reduce food costs; computerizing the food ordering process; tracking work hours more closely; and creating an overall business plan. But please: First find a way to make sure kids aren’t being fed something to which they’re allergic.

There is no excuse for shoddy planning for mentally ill patients

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MASSACHUSETTS HOSPITALS DISCHARGING MENTALLY ILL patients should never let them go home without a post-release treatment plan. Yet more than half of such patients were discharged without one, the Globe reported.

According to the federal website, Hospital Compare, which tracked data between Oct. 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, nationally, 74 percent of patients left a hospital with a continuing care plan, compared with only 41 percent in Massachusetts. Local hospital leaders contend there’s discharge planning for virtually all patients. However, some plans may not include every Medicare-preferred element. And, if one element is missing, Medicare doesn’t count it.

Still, whatever the reporting issues, if Massachusetts wants to view itself as the gold standard for health care, it shouldn’t look for excuses when it falls short of the mark.

Our political culture is too tolerant of patronage

POLITICAL PATRONAGE IN PROBATION has already been exposed — and, supposedly, reduced to a manageable level. Probation officers play a crucial role in the criminal justice system, and state lawmakers shouldn’t undermine them by forcing unqualified candidates into the positions. That should be obvious, but it bears repeating after courtroom testimony Friday that state Senate President Therese Murray foisted a grossly unprepared candidate on the department in 2008. The candidate, Patrick Lawton, would go on to resign two years later after he was arrested for heroin possession.

Massachusetts’ political culture remains tolerant of patronage. Murray and her colleagues need to recognize that pulling strings for job candidates isn’t just unfair to other applicants; it makes government less effective, too. When Lawton got the job, he took a space that could have gone to a better probation officer. And that’s what politicians like Murray should want for Massachusetts.

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