CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION  &  GOVERNMENT

 

CLT Update
Sunday, December 2, 2001

"Boot the bums" revolution energizes


When lawmakers become law breakers, judges and voters alike are under attack. They should both move vigorously to defend the public interest.

A Boston Globe editorial
Dec. 2, 2001
Lawmakers, lawbreakers


"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."

North Adams Transcript
Nov. 29, 2001
Editorial: Unkindest cuts


Swift wields pen to restore some social services

"IMPERIOUS MAXIMUS" WATCH

Payback on Clean Elections?

Finneran clout seen in judge postings
Speaker downplays string of successes

Speaker notes posts, those interested


"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," so here I am at 6:00 am, spending another early Sunday morning updating you on our gradual, incremental, loss of it. No rest for the weary -- or the just-awakening -- in these parts. Just another day here at CLT, though it does break up the monotony of getting back to work on the CLT Activist News newsletter that's got to be at the printer in the next day or two.

Why do I do this? Surely it's not the modest salary! It's because there is strength in numbers; the only way we who care can be truly effective. This has always been the nature and backbone of democracy.

For you to be effective -- an informed voter -- you need to know what is happening to you and the commonwealth, so that you can be the authority among your family, friends, and acquaintances. I sure hope you're using our efforts to reach out and benefit all of us in the Peoples Republic during these trying times. (I'd hate to think I should have been sleeping-in on a Sunday morning!)

Thanks to all of you who've paid attention, taken recent news events seriously enough to respond and ask to be added to the CLT Prop 2 PAC mailing that's be going out in the next week. Electing true "representatives" will be a major goal for us -- as well as many others -- in the months ahead. As even the Boston Globe today admits (will wonders never cease!) in its editorial [below]: "When lawmakers become law breakers, judges and voters alike are under attack. They should both move vigorously to defend the public interest."

This unanimous disgust from around the state is a harbinger of potential things to come.

It is now our only hope to restore democracy here in Massachusetts, and we intend to make this mission one of our two primary purposes in the coming months, along with protecting our tax rollback.

Of course, we cannot accomplish much without your commitment, involvement, and support. There is strength in numbers, and for almost three decades CLT has always rose and faltered based on that simple formula.

It's important that you understand and appreciate that CLT cannot co-mingle funds between CLT and the CLT Prop 2 PAC. That is precluded by law. If you contribute to CLT, that money can be and is spent only on and by CLT. If you want to help support candidates, you need to separately contribute to the PAC -- either the Prop 2 PAC or our new-this-year "Joe Six-PAC". (You'll hear more about "Joe" in the future.)

If you want to help right now, today, immediately, contact Chip Faulkner at 508-384-0100 or e-mail him. He will add you to the PAC mailing list.

Chip Ford


The Boston Globe
Sunday, December 2, 2001

A Boston Globe editorial
Lawmakers, lawbreakers

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 doesn't have.

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

Editorial 
Unkindest cuts

[Excerpt]

"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

Swift wields pen to restore some social services 
by Elisabeth J. Beardsley

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 do.

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 a statement.

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 restore spending.

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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CLT's continuing "Imperious Maximus" Watch follows


The Boston Globe
Sunday, December 2, 2001

Political Capital
By Globe Staff

Payback on Clean Elections?

Punishment for his Clean Elections advocacy? Some think so. After pushing funding for Clean Elections, which House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran opposed, Marc Draisen, a former legislator who now heads the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, found no new state money for his CDCs in the budget. But it does include new hurdles for community development groups: To trigger a state match, they must double  the funding through private sources. That's a tall order, Draisen said, and his allies call it personal retribution. Finneran spokesman Charles Rasmussen says only: "Can I tell you there's no love lost between him and the speaker? Yes."

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The Boston Globe
Sunday, December 2, 2001

Finneran clout seen in judge postings
Speaker downplays string of successes

By Brian C. Mooney
Globe Staff

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 positions.

In an interview, the speaker downplayed his judge-making prowess as well as his sway with Acting Governor Jane Swift and her predecessor, Paul Cellucci.

"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 court.

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 1997.

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. Weld.

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 October.

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 Finneran.

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 Finneran.

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 most.

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 March.

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
Globe Staff

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 is seeking.

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 the opening.

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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