Conflicts everywhere in Massachusetts

As a response to the galactically stupid attitude taken by our State House and Senate leaders toward the practice of recommending relatives and friends and campaign contributers for state jobs, the Globe has an editorial stating the obvious:

But the two top legislative leaders deeply undercut any pro-reform message Monday, when they insisted that recommending people for state jobs is part of what lawmakers do. “We get thousands of requests a year,’’ Murray said. DeLeo, who recommended his godson for a probation job, insisted that he does not “put any undue influence on anyone.’’

But any administrator would have trouble ignoring a recommendation by someone who, in his legislative role, controls the state budget. That’s why innocuous-sounding recommendations can be so insidious. Lawmakers see them as an extension of their perks and power. But they result in a culture of favoritism that betrays taxpayers and undermines the legitimate goals of government. Murray and DeLeo shouldn’t pretend to be unfamiliar with the history of legislators protecting underperforming employees and treating state jobs as giveaways.

I should mention that the Ware report itself, while extremely valuable, only takes care of the Executive side of things. Legislators are still free to do what they do until Massachusetts citizens vote them out of office. Because we do not take their elections seriously enough [being overshadowed by the Big Elections, like President or Governor], these guys manage to stay in the system until they die or get arrested.

Dave Wedge of the Boston Herald [and fellow member of Brockton High School Class of 1988] explored another avenue of conflict: the fact that Ware’s firm, Goodwin Procter, gave loads of money to State politicians:

Goodwin Procter employees have donated a total of $207,000 to Bay State politicians since 2002, including contributions to key players named in the scathing Probation patronage investigation led by Paul F. Ware Jr. a partner in the Hub firm: former Senate President Robert Travaglini, former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) and outgoing Treasurer Tim Cahill.

Wedge is right to question the connection between what is essentially a contractor and the donations made by the contractor. But I think there is a more insidious problem here which sort of cancels things out: every big law firm in Massachusetts, especially those in Boston, give loads of money to politicians at every level. Further, when the politicians with law degrees are voted out of office, these firms provide very nice jobs.

Besides, one other quibble I have with this otherwise insightful piece is, while Ware did not directly attack Montigny, Cahill, etc., it did implicate them. So much so that these guys will have indelible stains on their records. [Can you imagine Gov. Cahill now? Seriously?!?] I do not see how money could have influenced the report. Then again, it was noted to me that perhaps these politicians could, at the very least, return the money donated to them from Big Law. This could also help in reducing conflict throughout the Commonwealth.

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Ron Gordon

Math nerd in his early 40's who seems to have an opinion about everything and an inability to keep it to himself.