The Boston Globe
Sunday, December 2, 2001
A Boston Globe editorial
AMERICA is supposed to be a nation of laws and not of men, but
Massachusetts has become a state of politicians and not of laws.
That conclusion is unavoidable following the Legislature's
failure to carry out clear legal and constitutional mandates and implement the Clean Elections Law.
Tomorrow morning in the Supreme Judicial Court, attorneys
will argue whether there is any legal remedy the courts can impose to overcome the Legislature's truculence. Even Attorney
General Thomas Reilly, whose office will be arguing that the courts lack that power, blames the Legislature for ignoring its
duty. Reilly says, "I am as disappointed as any of the proponents at the lack of funding."
Advocates of the Clean Elections Law, which was passed by
the voters in 1998, charge in their suit that the Constitution gives the Legislature only two choices in such cases: Repeal
the law, or appropriate enough money to implement it. This much is not debated; the constitutional language is crystal clear.
Reilly's argument is that there is no satisfactory mechanism
for compelling action. Courts are exceedingly reluctant to even attempt to force legislatures to spend money, and in this case
the Legislature is not a defendant. The secretary of state and his Office of Campaign and Political Finance are the named
defendants; they are supposed to disburse the money to candidates who qualify for public financing under
the voluntary system. But Reilly says that OCPF cannot disburse money it
Ultimately, says Reilly, the only sanction is at the ballot
box. "There's something broken here," he says. "The way to fix it is for the public to respond. I'm not so sure they won't."
Not so fast, say the law's proponents. The whole point of
Clean Elections is to reform an electoral system that is not responsive. It makes no sense to tell reformers that their only
recourse is the very system that they are trying to change -- and that desperately needs such change.
Voters deserve to be outraged, not only at the Legislature's
arrogance in ignoring the law, but also by the insulting rationale given. House Speaker Thomas Finneran has noted that
taxpayers volunteer only about $440,000 a year to the Clean Elections Fund -- far less than the two-thirds support the law
received. But this is an empty argument. The fact that taxpayers only contribute $180,000 to the state AIDS fund does
not keep the Legislature from spending about $51 million a year on AIDS.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers retain their doubled expense
accounts, which will make incumbents even harder to challenge.
When lawmakers become law breakers, judges and voters alike
are under attack. They should both move vigorously to defend the public interest.
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North Adams Transcript
Thursday, November 29, 2001
"Why would Legislative leaders want the public to feel the
cuts? So some Democratic Legislative leaders can blame the "Republican" tax cut, and maybe Swift, for the problems and
seek to both avoid the planned continued reductions and damage the acting governor at the same time."
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The Boston Herald
Sunday, December 2, 2001
Warning that pregnant women and the poor could face dire
circumstances under deep cuts called for in the Legislature's proposed budget, Acting Gov. Jane M. Swift offered up her own
plan yesterday that restores money for some social services and cuts $271 million in other areas.
"Our agenda ... has to be one that is thoughtful, that's
responsive and that is respectful of the people we represent," Swift said. "Unfortunately, the spending plan that was passed
by the Massachusetts Legislature on Thanksgiving Eve was none of those things."
Swift's comments came yesterday at a press conference in
North Adams where she signed a $22 billion budget and issued $271 million in spending vetos. Among the spending cuts
targeted were money lawmakers earmarked for pension funds, schools and themselves.
The acting governor, who also called for the restoration of
nearly $600 million in social services, warned that hundreds of pregnant women could lose their prenatal care under the
Legislature's current budget. The $2 million Healthy Start program that serves hundreds of poor women, is just one of a
host of services that will be cut, she said.
The Legislature is scheduled to try to override her vetoes
on Wednesday. A two-thirds majority vote is needed for an override, something the heavily Democratic Legislature could
Charles Rasmussen, spokesman for House Speaker Tom
Finneran, defended the Legislature's budget.
"The members voted on what they thought was a very reasoned
and thought-out budget," he said. "There were tough choices they had to make. (Swift) is making different choices."
But administration and Finance Secretary Stephen Crosby
yesterday pointed to a series of potentially harrowing closuresof human and social services if the Legislature's current
budget is approved.
About 45,000 welfare families will have their allowance
slashed 5 percent, and 5,800 families will lose 25 percent of their food stamps if the Legislature doesn't put back $17.7
million, he said.
And nearly 3,000 children who have been removed from abusive
or neglectful homes will lose their foster-care subsidies unless lawmakers restore $21.8 million to the Department of
Social Services, he said.
"That's creepy stuff," Crosby said.
Advocates said they are relieved that Swift's proposed
supplemental budget would restore millions to human-service programs, particularly $15 million for court-ordered services
for the mentally retarded.
But Swift's recommendation on mental-retardation services is
still $7 million shy of the agreement negotiated through the courts, said Human Services Coalition Director Stephen Collins.
"Once again, a political promise is not kept," Collins said.
As she restored spending in some areas yesterday, Swift used
her veto pen to whack $271 million in funds in others.
While promoting a $223 million increase in education-reform
aid to cities and towns, Swift clipped millions from other school programs.
Nearly $4.5 million was vetoed from a kindergarten-expansion
grant program. Swift also sliced more than $3 million from state aid to build new schools.
And the acting governor wiped out all $5 million the
Legislature had put toward aid for school districts with high enrollment growth.
In other spending cuts, Swift sliced $20 million from
lawmakers' slush funds, and slashed $2.5 million in State Police patrols at beaches and malls.
Swift also weeded out dozens of earmarks, which set aside
fixed sums of money for pet projects. Earmarking is an annual tradition on Beacon Hill, employed by lawmakers to curry
favor in the district.
The single biggest veto item was $130 million from the
state's annual contribution to the state employee pension system. That proposal could be a non-starter in the House,
where Finneran insists on an aggressive pension-funding schedule.
Swift also jabbed incumbent legislators by proposing in her
supplemental budget to fund the voter-approved clean-elections law at $23 million. Legislative leaders have left it "in
conference" to die.
Both Finneran and Senate President Thomas Birmingham were
out of town and unavailable for comment. But Birmingham's office issued a statement blasting Swift for a $178,698 veto
to community health centers.
Birmingham, a likely gubernatorial candidate, also criticized Swift for refusing to sign a $45
million cash infusion to affordable housing and other capital projects.
Swift returned that item to the Legislature and recommended
that the money be borrowed, but Birmingham said he wasn't willing to "reneg on the promise we all made last year."
"The governor did make some troubling proposals," he said in
Meanwhile, Crosby and Swift's chief of staff, Peter Forman,
invited all 200 lawmakers to attend a special briefing tomorrow afternoon to go over the acting governor's proposal to
Some rank-and-file lawmakers, who have complained about
being excluded from the budget process, welcomed the invite.
Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington), a staunch liberal and
frequent Swift critic, said he's grateful for the Republican acting governor's outreach.
"I certainly am happy to get information and briefings and
encouragement from the governor's office," he said. "I certainly don't think the budget that we voted on last week
ought to be the last word."
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House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran last week tried to deflect
news reports that his fingerprints were on a pair of budget items that would help his friends.
"I have a lot of friends," he said. "I like them; I stand by
them. Their friendship, however, does not inhibit me or influence me in any way."
If Finneran is unmoved, as he says, by friends' influence,
he has not been shy about trying to influence others to appoint them. A dominant Beacon Hill player, he has extended his
dexterous reach into the arcane process of appointing judges, a Boston Globe examination of
recent court nominations shows.
The powerful Democrat from Mattapan has scored extraordinary
success persuading Republican governors to nominate friends and colleagues, past and present, to court
In an interview, the speaker downplayed his judge-making
prowess as well as his sway with Acting Governor Jane Swift and her predecessor, Paul
"If I make two or three recommendations a year, just
recommendations, that would probably be pushing it," Finneran said, referring not merely to judicial appointments but also
political patronage referrals involving other state agencies. "I just don't focus on it."
But the trend of recent appointments undercuts the disclaimer and indicates he has been
pushing harder this year.
In 2001, of 46 court appointments, six Finneran candidates
-- five judges and a clerk-magistrate -- have been nominated by Cellucci or Swift and confirmed by the
Governor's Council. That's about one of every eight nominations this year.
By contrast, Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham has
intervened successfully in one judicial appointment this year -- the promotion of a district court judge to the superior
In two cases, Finneran all but wired the nomination from the
outset, two officials involved in the selection process said. He weighed in heavily in favor of elevating Joseph A.
Trainor, a former aide, from the juvenile court to the Appeals Court and
the appointment of William P. Nagle Jr., former House majority leader, as clerk-magistrate of Ware District Court. Nagle
was sworn in Friday. Trainor will take his oath this Thursday.
Trainor's seat was Finneran's for the asking after court
officials last year requested five new Appeals Court judges, and Finneran then wrote another six seats into the budget.
Trainor's is the last of the 11 additional slots to be filled.
Of Trainor's nomination, Finneran said he was a strong
advocate, but vigorously denied political horse-trading. "I'll take credit for expansion of the Appeals Court, but it did not
carry any type of expectation or obligation for appointments," he said. "It didn't come with
any quid pro quo."
Trainor "is an exceptional individual, very bright, and with
experience inside of government and outside," said Finneran, also a force behind Trainor's juvenile court nomination in
Finneran hired Trainor as budget director-general counsel to
the House Ways and Means Committee in 1991-92 when he was chairman. Before taking the bench, Trainor had also
been general counsel to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and assistant
secretary of administration and finance in the administrations of Cellucci and William F.
By naming Trainor in July, Swift vaulted him past scores of
jurists, including 79 at the superior court level, who had broader trial court experience. Trainor, who turns 53 this
week, lives in Chelmsford. He was confirmed by the Governor's Council on an 8-0 vote in
Swift press secretary James Borghesani would not comment on
Trainor's or other nominations, but said: "The governor welcomes recommendations from any member of the
Legislature, or anybody else, who has knowledge about a potential judge or
clerk. But the decisions are based ultimately upon the person's ability, stature, and experience."
Finneran is on a roll but flatly denies that his success is
a reward for an often supportive relationship with Republican administrations.
"Any effectiveness I might have is based upon my policy of
endorsing only those candidates who have achieved excellence in their professional lives," he said. "Their qualifications are
of the highest order."
Finneran is also extremely close to two members of the
Judicial Nominating Council but said he never talks shop with the pair -- his law partner Thomas Drechsler, who, with
Finneran's backing, won a slot on the 21-member screening panel several years ago; and his long-time
former chief aide William F. Kennedy, who was appointed without Finneran's input earlier
this year after he entered private law practice.
Initially, Finneran said he could recall only three judicial
nominations in recent years in which he played a significant role -- Trainor's two appointments and the Cellucci selection
of Leo J. Lydon of Dorchester to the juvenile court circuit in December 1998. Lydon died in a car
accident last year.
But the speaker later acknowledged making recommendations to
the governor or a member of the governor's staff in at least seven other court nominations, most of them this year.
Besides Nagle, nominated by Cellucci four days before he
resigned to become ambassador to Canada in April, they are:
Michael F. Flaherty Sr. of South Boston to Boston Municipal
Court in July. A former state representative, Flaherty is a rarity -- a 65-year-old first-time judicial appointee. "My
voice became one of many in a chorus on Michael's behalf," said
Christopher J. Muse, 53, of the North End to the superior
court by Cellucci last March. Muse is from a large and prominent family of lawyers. "I was asked whether I would speak
up, and I did," Finneran said. "It's a good appointment."
Terry M. Craven, 49, of Milton, by Swift in July to Norfolk
County Juvenile Court. Daughter of the late state representative James J. Craven of Jamaica Plain and major
Finneran campaign donor, she was a juvenile probation officer before practicing juvenile law. Craven
won "universal approbation for her work ... I did not hesitate to speak up for
her," Finneran said.
Brian F. Gilligan, 55, of Norwell, in March by Cellucci to
Milford District Court. A former police officer and state and county prosecutor who once worked with Finneran in the Suffolk
district attorney's office. "I was one of a very large chorus of supporters," said
Richard L. Walsh, 53, of Jamaica Plain, by Cellucci in March
2000, as clerk-magistrate of West Roxbury District Court. A former state representative, Walsh was associate House
counsel for 17 years. "I think Rick's eventual career goal is to become
a judge, and he needed some experience short of going on the bench," said Finneran. "I was happy to speak
up for him."
Michele Babajtis Hogan, 51, of Belmont, by Cellucci to
Cambridge District Court in December 1998. She served as a Suffolk County prosecutor for three years. Her husband,
Robert V. Hogan, is a longtime friend of Finneran's brother, Bobby.
In her questionnaire, she listed 26 candidates to whom her
husband made campaign donations in the prior three years but omitted the amounts, as required. State records show
she and her husband donated a combined $2,500 to Finneran, he gave $1,000 to
Cellucci, and six months after her nomination, two of their children, ages 19 and 21, donated another
$500 each to Finneran.
"I've known Michele for any number of years," Finneran said.
"At some point, I would have spoken on her behalf."
His time to speak was pre-nomination, when clout counts
Competition for prestigious judgeships is intense and behind
the scenes. Typically, dozens of lawyers apply for each seat. Many have similar credentials, and judicial qualifications are
so vague and subjective that a sponsor's clout can be decisive.
Virtually every judicial candidate comes from a political
environment. This year, 95 percent of nominees listed political contributions, averaging $2,000 apiece, over three years. By
comparison, about 1 percent of all Massachusetts residents donate to a political campaign in
any given year.
Moreover, nomination is tantamount to appointment. The
Governor's Council turns down about one nominee per decade.
Finneran's effect also extends to the bureaucracy of the
courts, from assistant clerks, court officers and probation officers.
He acknowledged a role in the appointment of eight of that
rank, including two assistant clerks with close political ties -- Brian J. Kearney, husband of state Representative
Maryanne Lewis of Dedham, at the BMC in 1999, and Patricia McDermott, former chief
aide to Representative Kevin W. Fitzgerald of Jamaica Plain, at Roxbury District Court last
Nevertheless, Finneran maintains he is "very restrained" in
the patronage game.
"I don't want to be promiscuous about it at all," he said.
"I try to make my recommendations rare enough so that when I do speak up, it has some impact."
What other impact?
"You didn't find them all," Finneran said. "I'm not going to
help you. You might have missed a few."
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The Boston Globe
Sunday, December 2, 2001
Speaker notes posts, those interested
By Brian C. Mooney
Already, politicos in West Roxbury are referring to their
state representative, David T. Donnelly, as "judge" even though he has not yet been nominated for the District Court seat he
There's reason for optimism, however. Donnelly can count on
support from Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, who is six-for-six this year in this department - he has successfully
recommended candidates for five judgeships and one clerk-magistracy.
A 45-year-old Democrat elected six years ago, Donnelly did
not return calls from the Globe seeking comment on his plans, but Finneran said: "I've heard rumor of it ... If David asks,
I'd be supportive of him ... Yeah, I'd speak up for him."
Donnelly, House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is not
the only member of Finneran's team in play these days for posts outside the Legislature. And he's not the only one who can
expect help from the speaker.
Six-term Representative Robert A. DeLeo, Democrat of
Winthrop, the chairman of the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, is seeking the Suffolk County register of
probate position, vacant since Paul R. Tierney's death in April. Secretary of State William F.
Galvin will appoint a successor.
Finneran said in an interview, "I have told [Galvin] that I
was aware that Bobby had expressed an interest ... He was picked as chairman on the basis of talent and ability, and he
has that in spades, but my assumption is he's running for reelection."
Galvin would not comment on any conversations he's had about
Meanwhile, 15-term Representative Kevin W. Fitzgerald of
Jamaica Plain, one of Finneran's four division whips, has been widely reported as a likely candidate for a court clerkship or
the House sergeant at arms post. Both he and Finneran said no decisions have been made.
Finneran did, however, put in a good word for Patricia
McDermott, Fitzgerald's chief aide of many years, when she successfully sought an assistant clerkship at Roxbury District
Court in March.
"I encouraged her, but I can't say I had a great role,"
Finneran said. "Obviously, others had a hand in it."
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