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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Even deeper and uglier

If the image of Dianne Wilkerson stuffing cash into her bra wasn't enough, the details behind the sting (Globe here, Herald here) are even worse.

The names being tossed about in federal affidavits aren't small-time players: Mayor Tom Menino. City Council President Maureen Feeney, Senate President Therese Murray. Boston Licensing Board Chairman Daniel Pokaski. Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee Chairman Michael Morrissey of Quincy.

The stuff reads like something out of a Dennis Lehane novel. Wilkerson allegedly takes cash to secure a liquor incense in her district; blackmails Pokaski by holding up his raise; gets everybody's attention then cuts a deal during a meeting in Murray's office.

The Globe sums it up:
The FBI's case portrays a system in which phone calls and pressure from a single, powerful, well-connected state senator got results in Mayor Thomas M. Menino's administration, the City Council, the Legislature, and the Boston Licensing Board.
The feds say they may not be done -- with City Hall a principal focus.

Sadly, this sort of behind-the-scenes horse trading of interests is probably not all that rare. The cash payments probably are, not because city councilors and state legislators are angels. Rather, few would seem to be a financially at risk as Wilkerson.

Or, given her track record, ethically challenged.

At this early stage, I would bet Murray and Menino are not involved except for their offices or their names. But there's probably a lot more photos and evidence we haven't seen yet so I'm not making hard and fast predictions.

The ultimate sadness is that, despite this monumental betrayal, many of her constituents remain loyal for the things she has done that money can't buy. Says Horace Small, executive director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods:
"When kids were dying in the streets, Dianne would bury them. When children were hungry, Dianne would feed them. It's not that Dianne does no wrong - she's done a lot of wrong. But at the end of the day you had someone whose mission was to help other people."
That real concern about people has become such a rare commodity in today's political world that some people would even tolerate her clearly seamier side may be the ugliest revelation of all. And it is about all of us -- about how we have allowed our political; system to be hijacked.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

I don't quite know how to break it to you, but Mass is noted as the third most corrupt area in the US after Louisiana and Phoenix, Arizona.

The good Senator was merely trying to apply equal opportunity to the gravy train.

The cash in the bra video was priceless.

The commonwealth system of 300 something little fiefdoms called cities and towns is the training ground for every imaginable form of cheese and sleaze.

We barely get through a month without tales of coin theft by T coin collectors, scrap metal sales of rare bridge parts, kickback schemes and so on.

Much of America has wrecked itself in pursuit of something for nothing but here, it passes from entitlement to religious creed.

The preposterous cop flagger pay is just one embedded scam. The weird hodge podge of city and town pension deals makes everything more costly and undermines attempts to negotiate bulk packages for benefits.

It is sort of funny. Where else would a pile of low skilled marginal contributors to a healthy robust society find so many stunning opportunities to game the system and enjoy far more compensation than their meager capabilities would ever bring them working an honest job?

I am a street fighter liberal and it always bugs me how the volvo liberals in the burbs accept an uneasy marriage with all the grubby inner city machine pol types who end up running Beacon Hill by default.

Looking back to the 80's, I always wondered why delegates from failed cities such as Keverian from Everett or Voke from Chelsea ever ended up having so much clout.

I had to conclude that they are more effective pushy bullies. And so it goes with Murray and DiMasi who will eventually be bagged for their own ridiculous scams.

This is a state where district attorneys move up from being front men for cocaine cartels and you can buy nearly anyone if you know how.

As a kid here I was forever reminded "It ain't watcha know, it's whoya know".

The Volvo liberals go along with it as long as their various symbolic causes are covered and are seemingly oblivious to how it infuriates constituents who actually work for a living.

An honest robust liberalism presupposes a ruthless purge of all these grubby pigs and low grade ward heelers.

Consider nepotism. Humans are clannish animals and nepotism isn't a bad thing when it is MERIT based. But here it is mainly CRONY based. Someone's useless cousin needs a no show job and strings are pulled.

I remember looking up Gazebo's in the commonwealth to coach musicians on cool public places to play and I came across this odd story of a new gazebo construction in, I think, Braintree.

The line item was a 90 grand expense and yet when I looked up Gazebo maker sites, you could get a bitchin' one made of Cedar for around 16 grand, the Deluxe model, installed. So where do we get the weird 74 grand discrepancy? You tell me?

October 29, 2008 8:28 PM  

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