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How corrupt is Massachusetts?

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We tend to think of Massachusetts as a pretty corrupt place. Let’s see, three House speakers in a row have been convicted of crimes. Sal DiMasi, the most recent speaker to fall, is apparently taking a break from his prison cell to testify before a federal grand jury that is reportedly poised to indict more than a dozen people, including several lawmakers. Toss in the Chelsea Housing Authority, the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative, Arthur Winn, and Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua and you can see why some people think there’s something in the water around these parts.

But it turns out we’re not as bad as we think. A new study by researchers at the University of Chicago finds Massachusetts doesn’t even crack the top 10 among states in terms of corruption. The report says the most corrupt states are New York, California, and Illinois, while on a per capita basis the top three are the District of Columbia, Louisiana, and Illinois.

Comparing federal public corruption convictions by judicial districts, Boston ranked seventh in the nation in 2010 with 27. But over the 24-year period from 1976 to 2010, Boston came in 14th with a total of 562 convictions. The long-haul winner was Chicago with 1,531 convictions, while the 2010 leader was Cleveland, with 65 convictions.

The University of Chicago researchers offer a host of ideas for reducing corruption, ranging from prevention and enforcement measures to calls for greater public involvement and education. The researchers say the money and time spent fighting corruption is a waste of taxpayer money.

“Corruption is not funny and it is not free,” the report says. “It costs the taxpayers of Illinois more than $500 million a year.”

                                                                                                                                                                        --BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

The Patrick administration says it will not release Lt. Gov.Tim Murray’s cell phone records from the morning he was involved in a high-speed rollover crash on Interstate 190.  Globe columnist Brian McGrory says Gov. Deval Patrick has become the exactly the sort of politics-as-usual public official he vowed not to be.

Patrick is bringing his salary-cutting crusade at state authorities to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the one authority he created, CommonWealth reports.

The state turns to outside firms with experience in gaming issues for help with negotiating an casino agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag.

A Boston Herald editorial praises the MBTA Advisory Board’s creative thinking on the T’s budget deficit, and wishes Beacon Hill would follow the board’s lead. Lawmakers begin floating trial balloons about tolling I-93 at the New Hampshire border.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The former Cohasset town manager who left in 2004 amid charges of sexual harassment by two female employees is facing a no-confidence vote in Groton, where he has been town manager since 2008, for sending sexually suggestive emails to a female employee there.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New Jersey Assembly approved gay marriage, but not by a big enough margin to override an expected veto by Gov. Chris Christie, Reuters reports.

Fail: Congress holds a hearing on the Obama administration’s “issues” with religious freedom and its new contraception rules with an all-male panel, leading to a new Democratic rallying cry, “Where are the women?”

ELECTION 2012

A new Suffolk University/7News poll puts Scott Brown up by 9 points over Elizabeth Warren. Warren, meanwhile, made her first appearance on Greater Boston last night to talk about taxes and health care. Oh, and the middle class. In interviews on NECN, Brown compares Warren to Attorney General Martha Coakley. Then in a separate interview Warren calls Brown “shameful” for using the name of his predecessor Edward M. Kennedy to defend his support for a health care “conscience exemption.”

Mitt Romney’s risky new target in advance of this month’s Michigan primary: Big Labor. Meanwhile, an excommunicated Mormon researcher aims to take down Romney. Jon Huntsman, a Romney supporter, was no fan of Romney’s tough China talk in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Rick Santorum follows Romney in saying he wishes Detroit has gone bankrupt, and then does Mitt one better, saying Wall Street should have been allowed to fail, too. Mitt + Ron = BFF’s.

JK3 is getting to know the district he wants to call his own. Keller@Large says the time has passed for his Kennedy’s last name to guarantee a win and could be a hindrance. Eleanor Clift, writing in The Daily Beast, says it’s inevitable that Barney Frank will endorse Joe Kennedy III.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The decision by NStar to buy power from Cape Wind gives a boost to plans to develop a 20-acre site at New Bedford’s South Terminal for marine construction, shipping and repairs.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits nationally fell to its lowest point in almost four years, the New York Times reports (via AP).

The Republican worries that downsizing the Westover Air Reserve Base will have negative effects on the regional economy

EDUCATION

MIT President Susan Hockfield announced she plans to step down.

Scituate selectmen said they may reconsider their vote to reject a proposed marine and environmental community college because it didn’t meet proposal guidelines but the nonprofit behind the school says the group may look elsewhere to build.

Attendance at New Bedford schools, one of the system’s biggest problems, is up over last year so far but still 50 percent of high school students and 17 percent of middle school students have been absent 10 or more days halfway through the year.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Scientists remain baffled by the continued dolphin strandings on Cape Cod.

Opponents of a wind project in Fairhaven have a filed a complaint against selectmen for violating the state’s Open Meeting Law but the town says the complaint is without merit, pointing out there was no meeting on the day the opponents claim. Meanwhile, the Cape Cod Commission nixes a wind project in Bourne.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Marblehead woman accuses a local chef of raping her and posting naked pictures of her on Facebook, and she says it took the social networking site more than a month to take down the pictures, the Lynn Item reports.

A Fall River woman charged with her husband last month for stealing catalytic converters off cars parked in South Shore commuter rail parking lots was arrested again Wednesday with another woman and charged with cutting off the catalytic converters on cars in Sharon and Attleboro.

MEDIA

Anthony Shadid, 43, a Pultizer Prize-winning Middle East correspondent for the New York Times, who previously covered the region for the Globe, died yesterday of an apparent asthma attack while on assignment in Syria. Globe editor Marty Baron’s reminiscences about Shadid in The Washington Post are here. Here’s an interview Shadid gave in December on NPR’s Fresh Air.

The Los Angeles Times develops new tools to cover the Oscars, including the Oscar Senti-meter and the Heatmeter, reports the Nieman Journalism Lab.

2 Article Comments
Recent Comments

hafhalt

Says on 2/21/2012 11:32 AM
Not sure that measuring corruption by the number of convictions is the right measure. After all, the place with the least corruption might be the one with the most convictions, where there is an aggresive culture of intolerance for corrupt practices and active law enforcement to back it up.
meterman

Says on 2/22/2012 1:46 PM
halhalt, that was a very insightful post! When I read "an aggresive culture of intolerance for corrupt practices and active law enforcement ", I thought of Martha Coakley....and chuckled!
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