Make a Comment 0

DeLeo bid to tamp down patronage talk does the opposite

Posted in: Current Affairs   Massachusetts Legislature
Tags:



Here’s how Charley Murphy rings out the old year, and rings in the new: The calendar turns, and the ambitious Burlington Democrat gets knocked down another rung in the House power structure.

House Democrats are meeting today to demote Murphy, a top lieutenant to House Speaker Robert DeLeo. It’ll be the second time in a year Murphy has lost a plum job in the House. In January, Murphy lost his post atop the powerful House Ways and Means committee. Today, he’s expected to be ousted as assistant majority leader.

The January leadership shake-up was meant to put an end to the jockeying between Murphy and Rep. James Vallee, each of whom was maneuvering to lock up votes to succeed DeLeo as speaker. (Never mind that DeLeo rose to the speaker’s office because he lined up his organization before the job opened up.)

Today’s demotion vote, on the other hand, is all about Murphy’s alleged disloyalty: The Globe previously reported that DeLeo was “seething over reports that Murphy, the House’s third in command, has been telling some members that an ongoing federal investigation into the state’s troubled Probation Department could topple the speaker and other top legislative leaders.”

It’s a dramatic turn that Murphy may be insinuating that DeLeo could be threatened, either directly or by association, by the two grand juries currently looking into the Probation scandal. Murphy was the House leader who had  the pleasure of offering DeLeo’s initial response to independent counsel Paul Ware’s blistering Probation report.

Ware found that favoritism and corruption dominated Probation hiring, but Murphy, speaking for House leadership, pushed back against Ware’s characterization of the nexus between political connections, campaign cash, and Probation jobs. Ware found “statistical evidence that “pay for play” was the reality” in Probation hiring and promotions. Ware has said he does not “believe Speaker DeLeo did anything inappropriate,” but he has also said that his charge was to investigate the Probation Department, not the Legislature.

Ousting Murphy from the House’s inner circle may help DeLeo consolidate his hold over the House, and it may squelch some distracting internal House personality politics. But to the world outside the House chamber, the act of demoting Murphy will do little to shine up DeLeo’s public image.

Murphy’s great crime appears to be reminding his colleagues that there’s a federal grand jury sitting in Worcester right now. That grand jury appears to be very interested in the relationship between the Legislature and Probation. It’s no secret that current and former members of the House leadership were named in Ware’s report. So the possibility that somebody close to DeLeo could get embarrassed by this grand jury, if not indicted, shouldn’t come as news to anybody.

If that’s the case, then, by demoting Murphy, DeLeo is doing little more than inviting another round of critical stories about his complicated relationship with patronage. Early in the year, the Globe hit DeLeo with a devastating editorial, saying the speaker needs to build a legacy that goes beyond slots and patronage. The former has been the House’s main focus for the past year; with today’s shakeup, DeLeo is unwittingly reminding the public that the latter hasn’t gone away, either. 

                                                                                                                                                        --PAUL MCMORROW


BEACON HILL

Ooops. The state rolled out its $1.8 million Open Checkbook, (here’s the CommonWealth story) but the website still wasn’t up and running until this morning.

State officials have granted partial approval for a controversial biolab facility Boston University plans to build in the city’s South End neighborhood.

The American Dream dims, as a new poll indicates 58 percent of Massachusetts residents feel the next generation will be worse off financially than the current generation. The WBUR poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group.

The MetroWest Daily News supports a bill that would move the state primary to the same day as the presidential primary, June 5.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston city officials blocked protesters yesterday from bring a weatherized, military-style tent into the Occupy encampment at Dewey Square.

A Fall River city councilor is looking at restoring Civil Service to fill the city’s fire chief position after Mayor Will Flanagan appointed a lieutenant who is a campaign supporter as interim chief, bypassing more than two dozen higher-ranking candidates. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl took a look at the Civil Service system last spring to determine if it is a cure for patronage.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino has big plans for the East Boston waterfront.

New Bedford Mayor-elect Jon Mitchell says he will continue the legal fight in a $3 million claim by the city’s unions that furloughs instituted by outgoing Mayor Scott Lang in 2009 were illegal.

Quincy city councilors credit a proposal they are considering to fine utilities if they leave double poles in place longer than the state-mandated 90-day limit for prompting companies to remove the poles at a quicker pace in recent weeks.

Brockton zoning officials are drawing a line between murals and what they consider advertising signs in the downtown area.

In Springfield, area residents come out to complain about Western Massachusetts Electric’s response to the October snowstorm. NStar is appearing before a selectmen’s meeting in Hopkinton to talk about its responses to recent storms.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Donald Berwick, who just stepped down as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, joins WBUR’s On Point to discuss the Senate’s refusal to take up his confirmation. In an interview with the New York Times, Berwick says 20 to 30 percent of health spending is waste.

ELECTION 2012

Reuters reports that Mitt Romney spent nearly $100,000 in state funds to replace computers in his office at the end of his term as governor in a bid to keep his records secret.

Time’s Joe Klein says Newt Gingrich’s idea to have school kids take the jobs of custodians came from him. Gingrich has not only emerged as Romney’s main rival for the Republican nomination (this week at least), he is also giving Romney a run for his money in the flip-flopper department, writes the Globe’s Brian Mooney. Gingrich tries constructing a fundraising machine to carry him past the early primaries. Nancy Pelosi, who investigated Gingrich’s ethical transgressions in the House, threatens to dirty up the former House speaker. The men and women who know Gingrich best have been slow to line up behind their former leader.

Without naming names, except Herman Cain and past high-profile adulterers, conservative talk show host Dennis Prager writes in the National Review that infidelity need not be a disqualifying factor when choosing a president. The American Spectator surveys the “heartbreaking wreckage” of the Cain Train.

Why should Republicans care what Donald Trump thinks? The Washington Post explains.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and casino mogul Steve Wynn pitch their $1 billion casino in Foxborough, NECN reports. Kraft says leasing land to Wynn for a casino would be “just like Staples coming in and renting space from us.” Wynn doesn’t like getting embroiled in drawn-out casino siting battles, and he’d like Foxborough officials to make a decision within 120 days. The Wynn-Kraft odd couple represents a threat to Boston Mayor Tom Menino and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the Herald writes. The owner of the Plainridge Racecourse says Wynn reached out to him about hosting a casino in the spring. Anti-casino protesters line up outside a Foxborough Town Meeting.

US News & World Report says men are being disproportionately affected by the continuing economic woes, a phenomenon that CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas documented in our special “The American Scream” issue last month.

In his weekly Globe column, CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow writes that Attorney General Martha Coakley’s suit against five big mortgage lenders says as much about the Obama administration throwing in the towel on holding lenders fully accountable for shady practices as it does about the banks themselves. Globe business columnist Steven Syre weighs in on the mortgage mess as well.

Universities like MIT are leading the way in trying to jump-start a high-end manufacturing sector in the US.

Not paying attention to the euro-zone crisis? You should: The collapse of the euro would send the US back into a recession.

Keller@Large is seeing red over the corporate branding decision to use blue to connote energy-saving green, which he says isn’t so black and white.

Governing magazine asks: What do you do with the stadium when the sports team leaves?

The Justice Department has concluded that criminal charges relating to the 2008 financial collapse won’t stick in court, so it’s leaving the punishment of AIG, Countrywide, Goldman Sachs and their ilk to the SEC’s civil enforcement division.

EDUCATION

A nonprofit group looking to build a maritime college in Scituate is worried the the December 30 deadline set by the town for bids for the land could impair its chances to buy the waterfront property.

The White House hosts a summit on the rising cost of college.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Cohasset voters gave initial approval at last night’s special Town Meeting to use the roof of the middle/high school and a section of the landfill to construct solar arrays.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The brother-in-law of US Rep. John Tierney was found guilty of racketeering and other charges in connection with the operation of an illegal offshore gambling website, the Salem News reports. Former state Sen. Richard Tisei, who is running for Tierney’s seat, says the trial comes up everywhere he’s campaigned.

A Lawrence man confesses that he picked up his 18-month-old nephew and swung the toddler until his legs broke, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Springfield Republican salutes Sheriff Michael Ashe’s  focus on rehabilitation at the Hampden County House of Correction.  It’s hardly a new tack for Ashe; a decade ago CommonWealth took this in-depth look at his reform-minded approach to corrections.

MEDIA

What is Buzzfeed and why is it getting so much traffic? The Nieman Journalism Lab has the story.

0 Article Comments
There are currently no comments.
Would you like to comment? You must Login or Create an Account to leave a comment.
Back to top

Login

Forgot Password?

 

* = Required
*
Username Required
*
Password Required

Create an Account Here!

Create an account with us to comment on stories and blog posts. Your account information will not be shared with third parties.

* = Required
*
First Name Required
*
Last Name Required
*
Screen Name Required
*
Email Required
*
Password Required
*
Confirm Password Required
*

Archive