Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beacon Hill 'leadership' just throws finger at us

I seldom agree with Howie Carr but he certainly nailed it with his column today in the Sunday Herald.

Current speaker Bob DeLeo invited all the living past House Speakers to see the latest version of the lower house of the Great and General Court be sworn in. Given what has come out in recent weeks with the probation department one would think the last thing he would want to do is remind the voters and media of the recent past of House leadership.

Wednesday’s State House swearing-in ceremony united three former House speakers — Thomas Finneran (left), Sal DiMasi (back row) and David Bartley (right). Boston Herald photo by Ted Fitzgerald

Obviously the Massachusetts House of Representatives is a political body in need of a serious overhaul. But how on earth to we fix it? 

Massachusetts politics is a joke but sadly the joke is on us.

Let's take a look at the men who have been speaker since 1958 and what happened to them.

  • John Forbes "Iron Duke" Thompson -  Thompson resigned as speaker in 1964 following a bribery indictment. He died before the case was resolved.Thompson Hall, a center for social and behavioral science classrooms and offices at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is named after him.
  • John Francis Xavier "Jack" Davoren - resigned from the House to run for Secretary of the Commonwealth and was elected replacing Kevin White who would become Mayor of Boston.
  • Robert H. Quinn - he wasn't speaker long as he was appointed Attorney General to replace Elliott Richardson who went to Washington to serve in the Nixon administration.
  • David Michael Bartley - who served 3 terms than resigned to become the President of Holyoke Community College where he served for 29 years before cashing out in 2004.
  • Thomas William McGee - speaker for 5 terms and was ousted as Speaker in a rare leadership fight.
  • George Keverian - he was an advocate for greater openness in leadership, free speech and government reform. He left the post, and state politics, in 1991, after losing the Democratic party primary for Massachusetts State Treasurer. He died in 2009.
  • Charles F. Flaherty - In 1996, Flaherty agreed to plead guilty to felony tax evasion for submitting false receipts regarding his business expenses. In addition, he also admitted to civil violations of state conflict of interest law for receiving free vacation housing from lobbyists.
  • Thomas M. Finneran -  After serving the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park, as well as the town of Milton as state representative for 26 years, he resigned his seat and accepted the position of President of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, which he subsequently resigned from in 2007 after a guilty plea to criminal obstruction of justice, in a court case about his testimony about his influence and participation in the redistricting process following the 2000 census. In February 2007, he joined WRKO, a talk radio station in Boston, where he co-hosts the morning drive slot. He continues to reside in Mattapan in his former district.
  • Salvatore F. "Sal" DiMasi -  He eventually resigned from this post in January of 2009, just six months prior to being indicted on several Federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud. DiMasi is the third consecutive Massachusetts house speaker to be federally indicted. His trial is scheduled for later this year.
  • Robert A. DeLeo - current speaker but under attack.

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