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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, April 12, 2013

Do as I say

If public pensions are a third rail in Massachusetts politics, Michael Sullivan has his hands on it right now.

The former Massachusetts legislator and Plymouth County District Attorney lobbied his former colleagues for higher salaries and pension benefits while he was head of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

And while Sullivan proudly proclaims his refusal to take a legislative pay hike in the '90s, he wasn't shy about the better benefits he received as DA.

The boost results from elevating DAs to Group 4, a category reserved for employees with high-risk jobs like police officer or prison guard. Lawyers were not originally envisioned as a member of the group.

But that was before Paul McLaughlin, as assistant Suffolk County DA was shot at an MBTA train station by a gang leader in 1999.

What's at issue is less the question of the risk involved than the reality of Sullivan, who edges closer to the Tea Party than has Senate race rivals, appears to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

For starters, he is collecting since age 55 as his right, a $27,492 a year pension. No mind that a local conservatively-bent publication has recently pursued a series of stories about pensions, in which the early retirement age is an issue.

And Sullivan seems to have amnesia on the subject, unable to recall his role in the effort despite the recall of the DA association's chief lobbyist at the time, Robert F. White, who told the Globe:
Initially, [he] had negotiated an agreement with legislative budget leaders that would have given district attorneys an increase to $113,000 a year, White said.
“I was blindsided when ­Sullivan announced at an association meeting he had gotten a special commitment from the House Democratic leadership for $117,490,’’ White said.
Sullivan poo-poohed White's contention and insists the lobbyist has it out for him because he prosecuted former House Speaker Tom Finneran while serving as US Attorney for Massachusetts.

It's a real tough place to be in if you are proclaiming yourself as the right's best hope in the April 30 Senate primary. Feeding at the public trough and short memories don't go ever well with the voters he is wooing.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you OK with public employees collecting pensions at 55, often with medical, for the rest of their lives?

April 12, 2013 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point is that Sullivan, while grandstanding on not taking the pay raise, has been collecting such a pension since turning 55, all while appealing to a political demographic that opposes such pensions.

April 13, 2013 11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the private sector most pensions are just going away. When we try to adjust public employees in the same manner, all hell breaks lose. Do people on this forum support the public pension system as is?

April 14, 2013 7:50 AM  

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