The Boston Globe
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Swift picks insiders for court posts
By Chris Tangney
With two months left in her term, Acting Governor Jane Swift
is wasting no time nominating politically connected insiders from both parties to plum positions in several Massachusetts
Yesterday, Swift nominated Brian J. Kearney, husband of
recently defeated Representative Maryanne Lewis, for clerk-magistrate of Natick District Court, and Metropolitan
District Commissioner David B. Balfour Jr. for clerk-magistrate of Suffolk County Juvenile Court.
The recommendations were presented to the Governor's
Council, which met yesterday to consider another politically connected Swift nominee, House minority leader Francis L.
Marini. Swift had earlier nominated Marini, a confidant of the acting governor, for a
judgeship in Hingham District Court.
Swift defended the nominees' public-sector backgrounds after
making her case to the eight-member council, which has final say on the appointments.
"This may not be a universally held opinion," Swift said.
"But I happen to believe that prior public service is an important qualification and certainly not a negative when
reviewing the qualifications of a candidate to a position that is continued, and permanent, public service."
Kearney, who has served as the assistant clerk-magistrate in
Boston Municipal Court since 1999, submitted only a one-paragraph, four-sentence resume to the Governor's Council
for consideration, citing his criminal justice degree from Western New England College and
experience as a police officer.
He came under fire in 1998 when the Globe reported his wife,
a Dedham Democrat who was assistant majority leader, lobbied MBTA officials to help promote Kearney, then a T
police sergeant, to lieutenant, even though he had not taken the necessary exam.
After Kearney's promotion fell through and he was forced to
resign due to chronic illness, he landed the assistant clerk's position at the BMC, a court widely criticized as a haven for
The clerk's position at Natick District Court would result
in a more than $20,000 raise for Kearney, who now earns $68,281 a year at the BMC. He would be paid $88,677 at the
Balfour, a longtime Republican insider on the state and
national level, was originally named head of the Metropolitan District Commission by Governor William F. Weld, and retained
the position during the Cellucci and Swift administrations.
He previously served as the head of the Bureau of State
Office Buildings and was an advance man for George H.W. Bush during his 1988 presidential campaign.
In January, Balfour donated $500 to the campaign of Swift's
choice for lieutenant governor, Patrick Guerriero, before the former Melrose mayor and state representative followed
Swift's lead and bowed out of the race.
Several legislators from both parties testified on Marini's
behalf, including a longtime nemesis, House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, and Lexington liberal Democrat Jay R. Kaufman.
Kaufman said of his appearance to support Marini, "Indeed, politics make strange
bedfellows," and praised his "profound sense of fairness." Finneran, the conservative
Mattapan Democrat, called Marini a "man of action" and emphasized his integrity and
"I would be comfortable entrusting this man with my life,
liberty, and property," Finneran said.
In the next few weeks, the Council is expected to approve
Marini's judgeship, which pays $112,777 a year.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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The Boston Herald
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Pals for hire: Gov doles out jobs
by Elisabeth J. Beardsley
Acting Gov. Jane Swift yesterday showered plum patronage
posts on a longtime GOP operative and a just-defeated state rep's husband while fending off criticism she is handing
top jobs to unqualified friends on her way out of office.
"This may not be a universally held opinion, but I happen to
believe that prior public service is an important qualification and certainly not a negative," said Swift, who has 10 weeks
left in her term.
Topping yesterday's heap of new appointments was Metropolitan District Commission chief
David Balfour Jr., whom Swift tapped to serve as clerk-magistrate of the Suffolk County
Swift also offered the Natick District Court clerk-magistrate job to Brian Kearney, the
husband of state Rep. Maryanne Lewis (D-Dedham), a top lieutenant of House
Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, who just lost re-election.
The appointments, which must be approved by the Governor's
Council, come on the heels of Swift handing out posts to two longtime allies - nominating House Minority Leader Francis
Marini for a seat on the Hingham District Court and her closest aide, Stacey Rainey, to the
University of Massachusetts board of trustees.
Swift said she took "serious exception" to suggestions that
she played politics by naming Rainey, the now-infamous "babysitter" for Swift's daughter during her tenure as
The flurry of last-minute appointments sparked protest.
"The parade of people who are coming forward now are
lightweight, B players," said Governor's Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning. "They're not the best candidates for positions
that hundreds and hundreds of people have earnestly applied to."
Swift acknowledged receiving applications from "many very
qualified" people outside state government for the juvenile magistrate job. But she insisted Balfour is the best for the
position, despite having zero experience in the courts.
"His long resume of public management experience qualifies
him for what is essentially a public management role within the court system," Swift said....
Lewis' husband Kearney, meanwhile, submitted a three-sentence resume with his application
for the Natick clerkship.
If confirmed, Kearney would see his pay jump by more than
$20,000 per year - from the $68,281 he makes now as an assistant clerk-magistrate at Boston Municipal Court, to
$88,676 a year.
Finneran appeared before the Governor's Council yesterday to
promote Marini, his sometimes-nemesis, sometimes-ally, for the Hingham District Court seat.
Speaking to reporters before word came of Lewis' husband's
appointment, Finneran dismissed the furor.
"If you were the governor, you'd not appoint perfect
strangers," Finneran said. "And if you did, you'd be a fool."
Marini spent more than three hours under questioning from
the Governor's Council about a 23-year-old lawsuit another lawyer brought against him.
Retired Brockton attorney Victor Fields, 86, told councilors
that Marini and former partner Steve Turner paid him $45,000 over 17 years to settle an "abuse of process" lawsuit.
The charges stem from a 1979 incident in which Marini and
Turner failed to pay their law office rent to landlord Fields, then wrongly accused Fields of stealing a set of law books.
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*** A CLT BLAST
FROM THE PAST ***
Thursday, September 19, 2002
"Anatomy" of Rep. Maryanne Lewis' defeat
Chip Ford's CLT Commentary
Ordinarily it wouldn't be long before the announcement is
made that former-Rep. Maryanne Lewis has been appointed to a comfortable patronage job in a Finneran Fiefdom, paying
even more than the $60,000 she made as one of Finneran's Flock. As a CLT member wrote
to me yesterday, if you're a Finneran Favorite, even when you lose, you'll win in the end.
Certainly it's in Finneran's interest to send a message to
other Favorites that it's safe to remain in the flock. But the real patronage jobs are available through the Governor's
office, and it would be nice if Republicans didn't contribute to "the mess on Beacon Hill" by playing
this game with their opponents. Save the jobs for people who didn't vote to override
the Governor's veto on the tax rollback.
And what's with some Republican Finneran loyalists --
especially one who plans to be the next Minority Leader once Fran Marini leaves to become a judge? I know, I know, Finneran
would never have been elected Speaker in the first place without House Republicans in his
pocket, but still, can't they separate themselves from him yet, stop making his excuses?
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The Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
From Pittsfield to Provincetown last week, the newspaper
headlines trumpeted the same theme: "Swift slices state budget"... "Governor wields budget ax"... "Swift slashes
another $202 million from programs"...
Amid all the slicing, slashing and chopping, what was
missing from the headlines was the nub of Massachusetts' current fiscal mess: a Legislature that maintains ironfisted
control of the state budget process yet seems congenitally incapable of taking the difficult steps needed to
control spending and keep the state's finances on an even keel.
So it was hardly a surprise that lawmakers last week were
content to step out of the limelight, leaving the disagreeable job of balancing the state budget to Massachusetts'
much-maligned lame duck governor.
Even Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham and House Speaker
Thomas M. Finneran, who held up the last budget until five months into fiscal 2002 over their respective
prerogatives, were largely mute.
As much as they may want to distance themselves from the
mess, Messrs. Birmingham and Finneran are hardly innocent bystanders. They, more than any others, are responsible for the
current budget that was balanced -- albeit precariously -- by means of nullifying ballot
initiatives, raising taxes by more than $1 billion and nearly emptying the state's "rainy-day"
The $202 million in cuts announced by Gov. Swift will prompt
painful realignments in departments already squeezed. So will the $100 million lawmakers have to cut to restore
fiscal balance (although the chances are nil incumbents will get serious about the "crisis" they
bemoan before Nov. 5).
But while Beacon Hill snips a few million here, a few
million there from the hulking $23.1 billion in state spending for 2003, the real budget busters remain largely untouched.
Repaying capital borrowing, which soared in the fat years,
has become a heavy burden now that lean times have arrived. The bill for health care services for state workers, retirees and
others is a whopping $4.2 billion a year. In neither case have lawmakers, or any of the
gubernatorial candidates, made a serious attempt to address potential savings.
Nor have they come to terms with the No. 1 budget buster:
the state-federal Medicaid program that costs an astonishing $6.4 billion a year -- one-quarter of total state spending.
Buying prescription drugs in bulk may cut up to $200 million
from the Medicaid bill, as several candidates optimistically suggest. However, the resulting $6.2 billion Medicaid line
item is scarcely less onerous.
In Worcester recently, Mr. Finneran declared that Medicaid
is just about bankrupt in every state, "and no one -- no one! -- knows how to fix it."
A promising place to start would be the Medicaid spending
item that accounts for the lion's share of the cost: nursing home care. No one -- no one! -- in the Legislature is inclined
to tackle the politically connected industry (excepting, perhaps, Libertarian Carla Howell who
suggests government should get out of health care entirely).
Why so expensive? Although Medicaid is a poverty program,
free nursing home care has come to be viewed by many as an entitlement for middle class and even affluent residents. A
shady and shameful cottage industry has sprung up to advise elders (and their would-be
heirs) on how to shield or transfer assets in order to qualify as "impoverished."
Evidently, the dodge has become politically sacrosanct. Just
last spring, state Rep. John Rogers, House Ways and Means chair, floated a plan to help balance the budget with major
Medicaid reforms. As if swatted down by some invisible hand, the proposal vanished from
public view as suddenly as it appeared.
Budget cuts and fiscal crises make for snappy headlines and
rousing campaign rhetoric. As long as candidates and the Legislature are content to pinch pennies while areas of vast
spending and waste are taken off the budget-cutting table, budget malaise in Massachusetts
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The Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
You know Speaker Thomas M. Finneran? Want to drive him nuts?
Look no further. The ruler of the state House of Representatives has provided all of us with the opportunity to
do just that this November. All we have to do is vote "yes" on Question 3.
Question 3 is a trick question placed on the ballot by the
Legislature. It asks, "Do you support taxpayer money being used to fund campaigns for public office in the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts?" What it really means is: "Do you want the
Legislature to implement the Clean Elections Law that was approved by two-thirds of Massachusetts
voters in 1998?"
As much as the legislative establishment hates the Clean
Elections Law, it has been afraid to repeal it because that would fly in the face of what the voters said in 1998. They are
so afraid that they don't dare put the true question on the ballot this year. They are afraid to ask, "Do
you want the Legislature to implement the Clean Elections Law?" because they
know very well that the answer to that question would be "yes."
So they came up with a question they believe will produce a
negative response from the voters and -- this is the trick part -- they plan then to use the answer to that question as if it
were the answer to the other question, the one they were too cowardly to ask. A "no" to
tax-funded campaigns, they will say, means the same thing as a "no" to Clean Elections.
It says something profound about the democratic values of
the people running the Legislature that they would use a ballot question as a device to manipulate the voters into appearing to
say the opposite of what they know they actually think, then act as if the spurious "advice"
thus obtained must be followed since it is the will of the people. If we vote "yes," it'll
drive them nuts.
This is all about money and the way it works to keep
incumbents in office. It's about money and the way it discourages new people from entering politics. It's about money
and the way it is used by legislative leaders to help them control representatives and senators. It's about
money and the way it shields legislators from being accountable to their
We are three weeks away from the Nov. 5 election, but
already we know the names of more than 75 percent of the people who will serve in the next Legislature. They are going to
be "elected" because they have no opponents. Many of them helped to bring that situation
about by refusing to implement Clean Elections fully this year. According to Common Cause
Massachusetts, there was one Worcester representative, Robert P. Spellane, who voted to
support the law on five out of five House votes. James B. Leary was four-for-five. John J.
Binienda Sr., Vincent A. Pedone and John P. Fresolo posted solid zeros.
In the Senate, Harriette L. Chandler was four-for-four, while Guy W. Glodis was zero-for-two.
The Clean Elections system, versions of which seems to be
working well in Maine and Arizona, lets candidates qualify for public funding by gathering signatures and contributions of
between $5 and $100 from a certain number of registered voters. (A candidate for state
representative would need 200 such supporters, a candidate for governor 6,000.) Once
qualified, candidates would receive public funds for campaigning, would be
barred from accepting contributions of more than $100 from anyone, and would have to limit spending. A
candidate for state representative, for example, would receive $15,000 for a
primary campaign and would not be allowed to spend more than $18,000. In the general election she
or he would receive $9,000 from the state and be limited to spending $12,000.
What if a Clean Elections candidate were running against a
non-Clean Elections candidate, someone who would not face any mandatory cap on spending? If the opponent exceeded
the spending limit under which the Clean Elections candidate was restrained, the limit would
be raised to correspond with the other candidate's spending, and public money would be
provided to meet the need. The idea is to neutralize the effect of money
by preventing any candidate from significantly outspending his or her opponent.
Once such a system is in place, the Maine experience
indicates, virtually all candidates choose to participate, thus leveling the playing field and essentially removing the money
factor from political campaigns. Candidates can't solicit or accept large contributions, and they can't
beat their opponents by outspending them.
This, of course, is not a system entrenched Massachusetts
incumbents would welcome, because it would remove the built-in advantage they have over all but the most wealthy
challengers. So this year the Legislature refused, until the last budgetary
moment, to appropriate the funds needed to implement the law. By then there were only a handful of
qualified candidates running. The whole process had been turned into farce as the
state was forced to auction off property to raise funds required by the law but denied by the
Proponents of Clean Elections in Massachusetts estimate that
it would cost around $40 million over the course of one four-year cycle. While that is real money, especially in
difficult fiscal times, it would be a tiny piece of the $80 billion-plus the state will spend in the next four
years. The law caps the total cost at one-tenth of 1 percent of the state
budget. It would be one of the deepest and cheapest reforms we've ever adopted.
If you want to see how it would work in Massachusetts, vote
"yes" on Question 3. It'll drive Mr. Finneran nuts.
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CLT'S OFFICIAL POSITION ON QUESTION 3
From October issue of The Activist News newsletter
Now available on our website
In 1998, CLT advised a No vote on the initiative petition for "Clean Elections" on exactly the
above grounds: that taxpayer money should not be used to fund political campaigns of
people with whom the taxpayer may disagree. We have somewhat changed our
mind as we've seen how much the Legislature hates this law and its encouragement of competition for
their seats, and we didn't really mind our tax dollars being used by Warren Tolman to tell
voters just how bad things are on Beacon Hill.
But primarily, the "Clean Elections" petition passed
with a larger vote than even our tax rollback. To be consistent, we must support respect for the will of
the voters. Question 3, placed on this year's ballot, is the Legislature's cute attempt to change
the discussion from overall reform to just the funding mechanism and get voters to reverse their
1998 decision. If Finneran gets away with this, he will do the same thing to us someday.
CLT recommends a "YES" vote
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