With Plums as Juicy as Sheriff to Bestow, It's Good to Be the Governor

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sheriff is one of the best jobs in Massachusetts politics for three simple reasons.
One, sheriffs are paid well.  Most collect an annual salary of just over $123,000, an especially heart-warming figure when calculating your state pension.
Two, sheriffs have six-year terms.  They face the voters so rarely that most people cannot tell you who their sheriff is.  To be a sheriff in Massachusetts is to be out of sight, out of mind, and out of the negative headlines.
Three, sheriffs control big budgets and a big number of jobs.  If handled wisely, the power to hire as a Massachusetts sheriff inevitably produces a rich harvest of political fruits. 
(According to a two-year-old State Auditor’s report, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office has approximately 1,046 employees.)
Having recently named Suffolk Sheriff Andrea Cabral as his new Secretary of Public Safety, Governor Deval Patrick is poised to appoint an interim sheriff to replace her.  The person Patrick chooses will have the job at least until 2014, when he or she must run in an election for what's left of Cabral’s term, which expires at the end of 2016. That’s two years to audition for the permanent job, build a wide political base, and raise the money needed to wage an election campaign.  Only the most inept pol could blow such advantages.
Yes, political plums as juicy as sheriff don’t roll into the governor’s lap often.
While there’s been little mention in the media of who may replace Cabral, you can be sure a lot is being done behind the scenes in the hope of influencing the governor’s choice.
When openings like this occurred in the past, governors usually looked to the legislature.  For example, we saw Patrick appoint longtime Waltham state representative Peter Koutoujian Middlesex County Sheriff in January, 2011, following the death of Jim DiPaola.
This time around, Gov. Patrick could easily break that pattern and give the job to a member of the Boston City Council.  Do not be surprised if Council President Steve Murphy, who has long coveted a higher office, any higher office, gets the nod.
But if the governor limits his options to legislators, at least a few from the 17-member Boston delegation to the House have to be considered serious candidates.  Gene O’Flaherty, Kevin Honan, Marty Walsh, step right up!
Of the four senators in the Boston delegation, you’d expect South Boston’s popular Jack Hart to be a favorite -- were it not for the fact he’s a strong candidate to succeed Senate President Therese Murray when she gives up the gavel after the 2013-14 session.  Senate President beats Suffolk Sheriff any day.  That leaves Mike Rush, Sonia Chang-Diaz and Anthony Petrucelli, all of whom should be seen as legit sheriff contenders until they declare their non-interest.
I have no idea if any of these folks wants to exit the legislature via the sheriff route.  But if I were governor, I’d choose O’Flaherty.
I intend no disparagement or diminishment of any other Boston rep.  It’s just that I know O’Flaherty better than the others.  I know he has the blend of smarts, experience, temperament and toughness to do the job right.  Also, O’Flaherty has publicly stated he does not want to continue as House chair of the Judiciary Committee in 2013-14.  His eyes are open for something new.
The correction officers union can chew up a sheriff if he’s not careful, but there’s no danger of that happening to the Chelsea-bred O’Flaherty.
If I had to guess who from the legislature Patrick will appoint, I’d say Chong-Diaz.  He will have no problem making the case for the senator from the 2nd Suffolk District.


Anonymous said...

We absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post's to be exactly I'm looking for.
Do you offer guest writers to write content for you?
I wouldn't mind producing a post or elaborating on most of the
subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web site!

Look into my web site ... hack twitter

Anonymous said...

I always was concerned in this subject and still am, thank you for putting up.

Also visit my pagethere Hack Gmail Password

Post a Comment