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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Probies

Careful observers of the Massachusetts political scene know today's Globe Spotlight report on the state's probation system isn't really news. What is different is the impact a story can make when it's on the front page of a major daily instead of a highly regarded public policy magazine.

That means tougher questions for independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill, named as an "ally" of Probation Commissioner John J. “Jack’’ O’Brien, "who employs O’Brien’s wife and one of his daughters."

And it poses yet another test on Republican Charlie Baker, who is attempting to place all the blame for all that is wrong with Massachusetts today on Deval Patrick without acknowledging the donkey in the room -- The Great and General Court of the Commonwealth.

And boy are there issues with the Legislature, starting with West Roxbury Democrat Michael Rush, who is using the Trial Court -- which once directed the probation system -- as a personal whipping post for revenge in the name of his father. A father named chief probation officer in the West Roxbury District Court who, the Globe reports:
...clashed with five female employees who alleged that he threw tantrums, tossed papers at them, and slammed the door in one woman’s face. He abruptly retired in September 2006, leaving behind a sex and race discrimination lawsuit filed by two of the women, but taking home a boost in his pension thanks to his late-career promotion.
Rush, with the blessing of Speaker Robert DeLeo, is trying to move the Trial Court out of leased space in close proximity to courts they run and into dingy space in Charlestown.

In fairness to DeLeo, this patronage grab didn't start with him -- Tom Finneran was first to hanker for the ability to dole out cushy jobs. But the current speaker, who is ready to hold health care cost containment up as a price for casino gambling, isn't even bothering with Patrick's proposal to take control of the probation system.
So far, the Legislature has shown little interest in reform proposals — the joint Judiciary Committee didn’t even ask questions when Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan presented the administration’s plan to bring probation under the governor’s control.
The Spotlight report shines a much needed light on the patronage abuses made in the name of the Legislature. It's yet another sign that there's little that can be done without a House (and Senate) cleaning -- and little likelihood anything will happen on that score until Massachusetts Republicans start thinking at the grassroots.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or we got some honest Democrats in office.

May 24, 2010 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't so much about getting "honest Democrats" in office, as it is about breaking up the entrenched Legislature and its leadership, doing things the way they always have, without any new ideas getting an honest hearing.

May 24, 2010 11:41 AM  

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