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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, November 21, 2010

Enough already

I come not to praise James DiPaola. the scheming soon-to-be-former Sheriff of Middlesex County who had a pang of conscience as his hand was being caught in the cookie jar.

No, I'm here to rail about the system that allows this type of plot to even hatch, a system personified one day earlier by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Murphy, who passed off the importance of the Ware Report on the Probation department precisely because there were no fingerprints on the cookie jar.

The ingenuity -- and deceit -- of the DiPaola plan is breathtaking. He discovered one of the many loopholes in the pension law and was well on his way to double-dipping a salary and a pension. The fact his work involves law enforcement makes the con all the more disgusting.

It was only after the Globe unearthed his scheme -- and after he won reelection -- that DiPaola seems to grow a conscience.

There's a lot of that same attitude in the remarks of Murphy -- and the silence of House Speaker Robert DeLeo -- about the corrupt system in place in the probation department. In the case of commissioner John O'Brien, lawmakers' initial response has been "no one has proven any laws have been broken."

Same as DiPaola, never mind the fact he was running for a job for which he had just submitted retirement papers.

The scariest fact of all? Despite the overwhelmingly need to change the culture -- and change the laws -- there really isn't anyone to do that. The House and Senate fought tooth and nail and succeeded in watering down changes offered by Deval Patrick. Does anyone of sound mind and body trust them to do it now?

The crisis in confidence in our elected officials has probably sunk as low as in the late 1970s when Sens. Joseph DiCarlo and Ron McKenzie were unearthed at the center of scandal surrounding contracts for public construction. The Ward Commission report led to the creation of the Inspector General's office, which is supposed to tackle waste, fraud and abuse in contracting before it happens.

It's clearly time for another independent body to take on a job the Legislature is clearly unable to handle on its own -- the oversight of pensions and patronage -- tools that when left in the wrong hands enrich anyone not foolish enough to get caught with his or her hands in the cookie jar.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get your facts straight.

November 21, 2010 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an attorney practicing in the Probate Court, I can't help but think about redirecting a fraction of this bloated budget to rehiring some of the folks in the Registries who have been laid off in the past several years. The remaining court staff is trying to be as creative as possible in managing an increasing workload; but when the courts can't even afford to purchase necessary reference materials--let alone keep core personnel -- you realize how out of touch and selfish Murphy, et al. are. We can only hope that the coming Federal investigation will lead to a major housecleaning.

November 21, 2010 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just elect someone from the Tea Party. Looks like another Mass Speaker of the House straight from central casting.

November 22, 2010 5:19 AM  

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