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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beacon Hill Blues

While all the talk these days is about casinos, we are a judicial scandal away from a public official trifecta.

Deval Patrick is wrestling with a variety of headaches -- from a failure to oversee pharmacies to a state drug lab that faked results that's led to a major court system nightmare. There's also the matter of a former highway safety chief who was unclear of the concept. Oh, and the budget may be coming up short.

Then there's former Treasurer Tim Cahill quietly standing trial on charges he used state lottery ads to promote his failed gubernatorial campaign.

But it's likely none of the past or present headaches rival the one looming over House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

While DeLeo says he will not be the fourth consecutive speaker to be indicted, Tom Finneran, is said to have been granted immunity from a federal grand jury investigating the patronage practices of the probation department. Another predecessor, Sal DiMasi has already made the long bus ride from federal lockup to meet the grand jurors.

The focus of the probe is said to land on one-time Speaker pro tempore Thomas Petrolati, but DeLeo is by no means a totally innocent bystander. Former probation boss John O'Brien is a DeLeo friend and already under indictment.

The speaker's godson, Brian Mirasolo, became the youngest chief probation officer in the state under O'Brien's watch. And, as the Globe notes, Leonard Mirasolo, was a top DeLeo aide -- handling the Probation Department budget -- before retiring this year.

What was the name of that show? Too Close for Comfort?

All of this portends poorly as Patrick and lawmakers get back to business in January. Aside from the looming budget shortfall, there's no shortage of issues for them to tackle, starting with the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure and the lack of funds to fix it.

Instead, the focus in the early months of 2013 is likely to be centered on the grand jury room in Worcester where the latest chapter of As the Speaker Turns plays out.

Entertaining grist for blog mills? Yes. Good for the Commonwealth? Hardly.

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