Winslow's No Rookie; Dems Beware

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dan Winslow doesn't know me from Adam. We don't have any friends in common. We are not in any of the same clubs.

So when I say that Winslow, the newly elected and soon to be seated state representative from the 9th Norfolk district, (Medfield, Millis, Norfolk, Plainville, Walpole and Wrentham), has his sights set on something bigger than the lower branch of the Massachusetts legislature, I am merely making an educated guess.

Will We Ever See the Likes of McNicholas at the State House Again?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anyone who spent time at the Massachusetts State House knew Kevin McNicholas, a radio newsman who died of cancer on Thanksgiving Day.

I knew Kevin. We chatted every now and then, but he was not a friend of mine, I am sorry to say. I admired him for his savvy and for the monastic devotion that he, a lifelong bachelor, brought to the high calling of journalism.

I’d bump into Kevin in the hallways, when he’d be going about his work with an unmistakable intensity, and on the steps outside the General Hooker entrance on Beacon Street, where he’d be taking a cigarette break. Kevin was never unfriendly. But he was never a schmoozer either. He did not feel the need to shoot the breeze with every dope who wandered by.

New Year, New Director for the Mass Film Office

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The New Year will arrive with a thud for the Pride of Woburn, Nick Paleologos.

January 1 is the day he’s leaving his job, under pressure, as executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

Reports are that Paleologos is out the door because he opposed the administration’s plan to impose a cap on the state’s film tax credit earlier this year.

Nick won’t be out of work long, I predict, because, one, he’s incredibly smart and experienced; two, he’s been very successful at the film office; and, three, he’s one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet -- a genuinely decent, kindly and generous man.

As one gentleman who served with Nick in the Massachusetts legislature some years ago put it, “Nick doesn’t have an enemy in the world.”

How effective was Nick at the film office?

Since he became executive director in 2007, more than a billion dollars has been spent on film and television production in Massachusetts.

No one should envy the person who has to follow Nick Paleologos.

Most people get it when it comes to taxing and regulating business.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They understand that profit-driven private enterprises are the engine of our nation’s prosperity, the bedrock of our most fundamental strength: economic power.

You can’t tax businesses blue, and regulate them to a fare-thee-well, without endangering our prosperity and squandering our power.

But if you need a fresh reminder of that fact, check out Victor Davis Hanson’s recent City Journal piece, "The Destiny of Cities."

City Journal is a New York publication, and Hansen focuses much of his attention on the strengths of this greatest ever city and the various threats to its success and its pre-eminence as a financial center -- now that it is no longer “an industrial powerhouse, agricultural center, or nexus for state or federal government.”

On second thought, maybe Scott Lehigh is right...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Maybe Massachusetts does need a new law requiring lawmakers and other elected officials to disclose each patronage request they make, as he suggested in a recent Boston Globe column.

If office holders had to think of making notations in a report with the Secretary of State, under penalties of perjury, every time they called Commissioner So-and-So to put a good word in for some friend’s cousin’s kid, would they be so quick to pick up the phone?

And how about all the friends of all the office holders in Massachusetts?

Would they be so eager to ask politicians for such help if they knew their names, addresses, contact info, campaign contributions, etc., would turn up soon in a report for all the world to see – including their friendly local newspaper reporters?

One can argue that the life of every public official in Massachusetts would become easier if the legislature enacted a bill instituting a Hiring Influence Reporting System.

Think about it. For the first time in history, some people would be reluctant to ask their elected representatives for help getting on the public payroll because their names would be published, whether they got the job or not!

Should Massachusetts require a Hiring Influence Reporting System of public officials?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“From the court system to higher education to the MBTA to the quasi-public authorities, entrenched legislators have long done their best to lard up the public payroll with associates, allies or contributors.”

It would be hard to argue with these words from one of Scott Lehigh’s recent columns in the Boston Globe, (“Patronage, post Petrolati,” 11/24/10).

Lehigh sees a “world-weary resignation” among the populace about the Ware Report, which detailed alleged abuse and corruption in the hiring and promotion practices of the Massachusetts Probation Department.

There is a feeling, Lehigh writes, that, “Massachusetts being Massachusetts, this kind of thing is inevitable.” He’s right.

Politicians got really good at getting government jobs for their relatives, friends and allies.

Does anybody think that is a man-bites-dog story in Massachusetts?

Higher-ups in the Probation Department developed an elaborate system to present politically-wired job candidates as a lot more qualified than they were.

What could be more Massachusetts than that?

Reactions to the Probation Department scandal over hiring and promotion practices

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

“The (Ware) Report describes in careful detail a systemic abuse and corruption of the hiring and promotion practices of the Probation Department. Such abuse and corruption are intolerable and are a betrayal of the just expectations of the public and of employees in the judicial branch, including those in the Probation Department.”

That’s how the justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court summarized, in part, the findings of Paul F. Ware, Jr., the independent counsel they appointed to investigate the Probation Department following an expose by The Boston Globe, (“An Agency Where Patronage Is Job One,” 5/23/10).

“Systemic abuse and corruption.”

The now suspended Commissioner of Probation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is accused of masterminding a long-running scheme to hire and promote un-qualified and under-qualified candidates sponsored mainly by members of the legislature.

Many are rightly outraged by the news.

But on Beacon Hill, many are rightly pointing out that recommending constituents for jobs in government has always been a big part of a legislator’s role.