Tuesday, July 19, 2011

They said WHAT??!!

As expected, it did not take long for the legislators (and ex-legislators) involved in Beacon Hill's latest patronage scandlet to be outed.  According to the Globe, former Rep Paul Kujawski (Kujo to his friends) and current Rep. John Binienda each placed a brother and a son, respectively, in the employ of the Commonwealth's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC).  What makes this little scandal unique even in this unusually active season of scandal is the fact that the animating allegation in question - that these particular patronage hires were made expressly in exchange for legislative approval of funding - comes not from a political crank or even a whistleblower, but rather from the agency itself, in legal filings in an employment discrimination case brought by a veteran who claimed he was unfairly passed over for a job at the Commission. 

Current Treasurer Steve Grossman, who oversees the ABCC, has already announced that he will not be taking any knee-jerk action against the two employees in question.  “I’m trying to take everyone on face value,’’ Grossman tells the Globe. “We will give everyone a fair shot at demonstrating that they are capable of doing distinguished work regardless of how they arrived.’’  He'll take some criticism for that, but it is the correct course.  Although it would be easy to leap to the assumption that the two employees in question were blatant patronage hires, it would be unfair to essentially penalize the pair for the gene pools from whence they came.

More interesting are the reactions from House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo yesterday called the Globe’s report “disturbing’’ and planned to ask Grossman about it this week, according to a spokesman. Senate President Therese Murray told reporters she too wanted more information on the case.

“I would like to know why a case like that was settled and we paid money for them to give that kind of an answer or to use that kind of excuse for not hiring somebody,’’ Murray said.
Following frequent repetition of his own name in the 'Ware Report' on patronage in the state probation department Speaker DeLeo has been at the forefront of several efforts to rein in Beacon Hill's rampant patronage culture in recent months, so it is a bit hard to believe he is 'disturbed' to learn of yet another patronage haven in state government where his lieutenants have been stashing relatives.

President Murray's reaction is perhaps more honest.  She wants to know how in the *%&$ the agency's taxpayer-funded lawyers were allowed to "give that kind of an answer," right out there in the open for anyone to read.

1 comment:

  1. Even taxpayer-funded lawyers are required to stick to the truth or risk sanctions. Their other option? Settling long before any defenses to the indefensible had to be presented to either MCAD or a court.

    And finally, I see an "Esq." behind the name of the Commission Chairman and Associate Commissioner. Where were they and where was the general counsel when the agency was being shaken down by unnamed legislators? It would have been helpful for someone to make everyone understand that it's not mandatory to acquiesce to strongarming. Even in Massachusetts.


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