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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, August 29, 2010

Bobby in Wonderland

The last few days haven't been kind to House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

It's only been 10 days since the speaker and his team have been exposed as emperors without clothes on the subject of Wonderland Greyhound Park. Today's Yvonne Abraham column brings to the Metro section what Paul McMorrow's piece did for the op-ed page: the fact the track was a goner no matter what happened on Beacon Hill.

But far worse than DeLeo's transparent effort to blame Deval Patrick for his own overreaching is word that DeLeo's No. 2 -- Thomas Petrolati -- is using the Sal DiMasi defense to avoid testifying in an independent counsel investigation into the state's patronage-ridden probation department.
Petrolati argues that [independent counsel Paul F.] Ware doesn’t have the authority to investigate legislators and could even provoke a “constitutional crisis’’ if Petrolati is forced to testify. In documents filed with the Supreme Judicial Court on Friday, Petrolati said the state’s highest court originally appointed Ware to investigate wrongdoing within the court system, but Ware now appears to be going after Petrolati, too.
The argument mirrors one by DiMasi in fighting an Ethics Commission lawsuit demanding he turn over documents related to the ongoing questions that eventually led to DiMasi's indictment While the former speaker won that legal battle, he ultimately lost the war.

Petrolati risks the same problem -- principally that of legislative transparency -- and in an election year. In fact, you have to wonder if he is merely stalling for time to push the probation mess past November.

And the same may be said of DeLeo. When asked by the Statehouse News Service last week about any impending leadership changes next session, DeLeo demurred:
"I don't know. I’m not even thinking about that. We’re worried about elections, making sure that the Democratic members that we have are elected, and then we’ll go from there.”
Hardly a resounding endorsement of a team that didn't serve him well in rolling snake eyes on casinos. Or stands to put him into even hotter water next year among a potentially restive House.

After all, there are far m0re jobs at stake in the probation department than at Wonderland.

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