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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

A battle joined over probation

Notice anyone missing from the gubernatorial candidates' call for the attorney general to investigate allegations raised by the Globe Spotlight report on the probation department?

We know Deval Patrick has authored a bill to take control over the rogue department and Charlie Baker apparently has had "enough." But where's Tim Cahill -- who has been identified as an "ally" of Probation Commissioner John O'Brien, and the employer of O'Brien family members?

Taking slaps at Baker, for "trying “to politicize issues for their own benefit without having a full understanding of the matters at hand." The man who the Globe reports has received "substantial" contributions from Probation Department employees, sees O'Brien as the victim.
"Rather than villainizing one individual without having a full understanding of the situation, perhaps we should try to fix the root case," Cahill said in a statement.
After reading the latest installment of the Spotlight series, I think villain might be a good term to describe a probation chief who had such such major political mentors that he could stand in a courtroom and defy judges and issue demands that would have landed lesser-connected bureaucrats on the unemployment line if not in a jail cell.

But more significant than Cahill's defense of O'Brien is the silence -- at least so far -- from legislators who control the purse strings to O'Brien's agency.

To date, the promise of patronage jobs has trumped any effort to rein him in -- even after one political patron passed away and a second was indicted and left the House in disgrace for a job in radio.

Whether the silence and hands-off approach will continue amid the rising chorus of Baker hand-wringing remains to be seen.

My initial guess is that it will, at least initially. After all, the Legislature has already been forced into pension and ethics reform. Asking them to give up a dumping ground for rewarding supporters, in an election year no less, is a huge hurdle -- until the heat gets too intense.

Patrick's bill, calling for the department to be controlled by the executive branch, is also seriously dead. At best, lawmakers will grudgingly restore power to the judicial branch, although Chief Administrative Judge Robert Mulligan should probably count on calling the movers to get his office over to Charlestown.

The executive proposes. The legislature disposes. The public fumes.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The executive proposes. The legislature disposes. The public fumes.

The executive office turns over quickly enough. It's the Legislature that has to be targeted for turnover in order to get some change in behavior. All this nonsense with "star" candidates for governor, may generate media coverage, but at the end of the day, it's the entrenched, hidebound Legislature, that stonewalls any reform.

May 24, 2010 11:37 AM  
Blogger Quriltai said...

After 16 years of the likes of Romney, I'm against expanding executive powers for almost any reason.

Give it to the judiciary, I say.

May 24, 2010 12:29 PM  
Blogger Mark B. said...

Sixteen years of the likes of Romney? This is a story of petty corruption by Democrats in a one-party state. Democrats who have gone to jail, Democrats who will go to jail, and Democrats who should be in jail.

May 24, 2010 1:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Seven proposals to reform what ails the Probation Service: http://danwinslow.com/2010/05/24/state-representative-candidate-a-former-judge-proposes-reforms-to-address-patronage-abuse-in-court-system-winslow-says-globe-spotlight-story-highlights-perils-of-one-party-monopoly/

May 24, 2010 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet it's Sarah Palin's fault.

May 25, 2010 4:48 AM  

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