There’s something sinister in the story surrounding the recent attack on newly elected Treasurer Deb Goldberg. By the way I don’t know the women and did not support her. I voted for Martha and Maura so I expect I followed the Democratic ticket and gave her my vote.
I get the sense that the story that recently came out against her is a shot across her bow by the Boston Globe. It is telling her that if she does not play ball with it then she’ll be in for more unfavorable articles. I say that because reading the story quickly casts her in a negative light but reading it closely shows it is much ado about nothing. It has no newsworthiness yet received front page coverage.
Perhaps Goldberg has shown that she’s quite independent and marches to the beat of her own drummer and not to the tune of that newspaper. It’s a quality we need in our politicians but not one the media is particularly accepting of.
In its editorial the paper picked up on the story in its paper by Frank Philips about Goldberg’s interaction with an employee who worked for a small Newton-based nonprofit Adoptions With Love where Goldberg is the president. The employee, Hannah Fisher, blames Goldberg for her losing her job even though everyone agrees she was looking to leave that job in any event. Philips wrote Ms. Goldberg got “entangled . . . in an awkward conflict: using her position as the state treasurer-elect with access to state employment documents to benefit a private nonprofit agency she heads.”
That sounds bad until you understand what happened. It seems a year ago in May 2014 Fisher took a job with Adoptions With Love. In November Goldberg was elected treasurer. She started figuring out how to fill positions that would be vacant when she was sworn into office in January. She sought to learn who had applied to work there. She must be credited for doing that since it appears she was not bringing in a bunch of cronies but was looking for the best candidates.
In doing that Goldberg came across Fisher’s job application. She knew Fisher had been hired and trained by Adoptions With Love six months earlier. It occurred to her that Fisher probably had no intention of staying there.
Now if Goldberg were in any way devious she could have kept that news under her hat and set about to undermine Fisher on the QT. She knew the nonprofit could not depend on her over the long run. Instead, she did the honorable thing. She called Fisher on the telephone to discuss her intentions with her.
Keep in mind, Goldberg came across this information properly. She handled it correctly. She advised Fisher who had the job for six months but was planning to leave to notify the executive director of the nonprofit of her intentions.
I suggest she was duty bound to do that. What choice did she have? Did she want to breach her fiduciary duty to that small nonprofit by hiding from it that a person it was depending upon was going to leave it high and dry?
Even though Adoptions With Love knew it could not rely on Fisher for the long-term it let her continue working there for almost another six months. It then terminated her, I assume once it found someone it could depend upon to do the job into the future.
Fisher filed an ethics complaint against Goldberg, That went nowhere. There is no ethical violation.
Fisher took a risk working one job and trying to find another. Many people do that. They hope their employer does not find out about their plans. Often, more often than many realize, a person receiving the application will call up the person’s present employer to check on the person and to learn why she is dissatisfied with her position.
Once Fisher saw she had no remedy, she connected with Frank Philips. He had previously written a story about one of Goldberg’s agencies. In an editorial the paper wrote about the Philips article it stated: “although her actions were legal, they don’t pass the smell test.” What smell test? She did what she should have done.
The paper ended “that sensitive state information such as job applications should be treated with respect.” Interestingly that is exactly what Goldberg did. So where’s the story?
I’d add, job applications are not “sensitive state information.” There is no requirement that state officials keep such matters confidential. Is not The Boston Globe the newspaper that condemned the actions of a former probation commissioner for not hiring the most qualified employees? To do that is it not necessary that state officials perform due diligence by inquiring about the work habits and ethics of the person seeking a position by reaching out to the applicant’s employer.
The blame is being misplaced in this case. Goldberg did everything correctly and openly. It is Fisher who was working one job while looking for another behind her employer’s back. That’s often done but when discovered by a small agency dependent upon that person it will cause problems. That’s the risk the employee takes.
When Goldberg inadvertently found out about it she did the right thing. She told Fisher to tell her employer. That this even became a news story followed by an editorial makes one wonder what is the paper’s agenda when it comes to Goldberg who from all I can tell from my distance is that she is doing the job the way it should be done.