I wrote how the newspapers like to follow up on stories. The Sheila Burgess story of a driving record involving 7 (minor? her fault?) accidents, 4 speeding, 2 failure to stops for a police officer and 3 other minor incidents (we don’t know the outcome of any criminal charge) which happened in her early driving years has in another article turned into “a driving record longer than some college chemistry books” according to Brian McGrory. Then he repeats the false “no transportation or government experience” mantra which I noted is not needed for the job she held.
I point to this because the paper uses it column writers to justify its first stories by repetition and hyperbole so that the public never considers the original story’s lack of factual basis for the subsequent conclusions. (I’ve come upon this because I’m intrigued about how effectively this worked against Billy Bulger. It turned a man with an impeccable record of public service into a corrupt official. You’ll hear more on this.)
McGrory’s story is mainly about Governor Deval Patrick. McGrory concludes he has “lost control, lost interest, or both” over the situation in Massachusetts. This is called the William Weld syndrome. It happened also to Mitt Romney. These governors get bored quickly. They seek something else like a higher office or more influential position. When that happens, you’ve all heard the old saw: “when the cats away the mice will play.”
You and I know Governor Patrick has “Gone Grey.” He’s lost his courage. Had he spent the time doing his job rather losing interest in it, the state would be in much better shape. But he’s looking at greener pastures as the grass he stands on turns begins to burn and turn yellow.
McGrory also wrote about the scandal at the State Drug Lab with Annie Dookhan and how the governor’s senior officials let that fly out of control. You may recall that nothing was being done about that until a day or two after I wrote stating the matter is going to cause huge problems for the state. In reply to one question I said it will remind someone of the Big Dig when the final bill came in.
There’s an article today saying the public defenders want $332,000,000.00 to represent the people it believes are entitled to have their records cleared of these offenses. What public defenders want will be echoed back by the prosecutors. Then the court system will want its share which will bring us up over a billion. (Of course if these things were handled right none of these amounts would be justifiable but rather than doing it right lawyers and judges manage to make things much more complicated than necessary.) Don’t think that’s the end of it. If a person is wrongfully incarcerated or lost a job or suffered any harm because of a deprivation of his or her civil rights that person may be entitled to be compensated for that. Every case that is thrown out has a potential for being a civil action against Massachusetts.
And it is not just the fault of Annie Dookham. She’s the one who will take the hit but when you open the gate to the hen yard and let a wolf in then you don’t blame the wolf for the carnage. Annie was a low-level chemist. The people above her had the responsibility for insuring she did the right thing. DA Morrissey is not going to get off the hook if a young assistant DA is brooming all the cases she handles in the district court. It’s his responsibility to set up a system whereby that can’t happen.
So too was it the responsibility of Governor Patrick to hire a commissioner who would set up such a system. You may recall the Commissioner of Public Health, John Auerbach, when the scandal first broke said the buck stopped with him. But then when he realized the magnitude of problem, he washed his hands of the whole episode and resigned to take a better job.
Speaking of paying money for those wrongfully convicted, Kevin Cullen had an interesting opinion article yesterday. He writes that Governor Council-elect, Michael Albano is going to request the governor to give posthumous pardons to two gangsters, Louie Greco and Henry Tameleo who were wrongfully convicted of being involved in the murder of Teddy Deegan. They already had their conviction vacated because they were framed by the FBI; they’ve already received a big cut of 101.7 million dollars handed to four of them by Judge Nancy Gertner for the time they spent in jail or about 33 million dollars each, a cool million a year.
Cullen wrote an earlier column in November noting that posthumous pardons are rare event, only two have been given in the history of the Commonwealth, both by Governor Dukakis to people executed by the Commonwealth. In 1977 he pardoned Sacco and Vanzetti and in 1984 a couple of Irish immigrants no one ever heard about who were hung in 1806. (Probably in preparation for his presidential run.)
Henry Tameleo was a consigliere in the Patriarca Mafia family. He worked with Mafia leaders Raymond Patriarca and Gerry Anguilo to run their criminal enterprise. Greco was asssociated with them. Cullen thinks it is a good idea to give them a pardon. He says it should be a “no brainer”. Suffolk DA Dan Conley seems to agree.
I’d suggest the no brains are involved in supporting this request. The convictions were vacated. You cannot pardon someone for a crime that he has not been convicted of. But even if you could, pardoning Mafia guys seems to be a little over the edge. If Patrick does that, which he will because he fears not following the newspapers, he’ll soon have a ton of requests from all the drug dealers who are freed under the Annie Dookham debacle.
You know things are a little out of kilter when Massachusetts economy is struggling, tax collections are down, unemployment up, scandals are breaking out relating to a compounding lab and the drug lab, and we are reading about pardons for dead hoodlums.