Jeff Jacoby’s not so nice farewell to Joe DeNucci

Memo to self. Make sure Jeff Jacoby is out of town when I retire. Jacoby’s Op-Ed in today’s Globe is a combination of bad manners, painfull reality, and gutsy journalism. Joe D, a former professional boxer of some merit, won’t be missed, at least if you listen to Jacoby. Out of the Robert Q. Crane school of one-for-me and one-for-you school of goverance, DeNucci will forever be remembered for his willingness to embrace patronage as a way to help friends and family regardless of capabilities. From the Herald story about down on his luck almost 80 year old musician cousin turned auditor:

“I’m his only cousin, his only family,” DeNucci told the Boston Herald. “He’s all by himself, except for me.”

Ya but could he audit? Certainly that never mattered. And then there are the 5% raises recently handed out to his staff at a point where lots of folks are happy to have a job.

So “good riddance” from those of us that never bought into the tough guy charm of a man that was less of an auditor than his replacement, Suzy Bump.

Maybe we are one step removed from the Commonwealth’s hack culture with the retirement of Mighty Joe. Today Suzy Bump represents progress. The glass is half full! Sorry Mary!

Good job Jeff Jacoby.  


Good riddance to old school

By Jeff Jacoby

JOE DENUCCI, a onetime prizefighter turned Massachusetts politician, steps down this month after 34 years on Beacon Hill: 10 years as a state representative, followed by 24 years as state auditor.

“To the end, championing others,” ran the headline over a Globe story last week marking the end of DeNucci’s long run in politics. The retiring auditor “is of the old school and makes no apology for that,” the Globe noted. “He is the product of a culture that prized helping those around you, which has permeated Massachusetts politics for as long as anyone can remember, but is under attack now.” The story makes clear that DeNucci sees nothing wrong with patronage. “We all did it,” he says. “It was about helping people; some I knew, some I didn’t.”

Consider Gaetano Spezzano, hired by DeNucci as a “fraud examiner” in 2008, though no such position was vacant and no other candidates were considered for the job. “Spezzano did not have the skills or knowledge required of a fraud examiner,” the State Ethics Commission charged in September, and hadn’t even completed the second half of a two-page job application. The 75-year-old Spezzano had worked as a musician and a meat salesman – honorable work, but not much of a preparation for rooting out fraud in state government. The only reason he was hired, according to the commission, is that he and the auditor are related.

Concern for family members is a fine thing, and who wouldn’t admire DeNucci had he reached into his own pocket to help his cousin out? But he didn’t. He reached into our pockets – into the pockets of the Massachusetts citizens whose interests he was elected to protect. He did the same a few months ago when he handed out across-the-board 5 percent raises to everyone on his staff: a slap in the face to Bay State taxpayers at a time when 300,000 of them are out of work, and hundreds of thousands of others have been forced to absorb pay and benefit cuts.…

One final thought. Why did the Globe have to do the “audit” of the patronage infested probation department? Disaster Deval, and certainly Mighty Joe, knew about the problems in the probation department. If an auditor doesn’t audit a hack infested agency like probation, then what does the auditor do? Maybe Joe had a pal or two on the payroll. Maybe that’s where his musically inclined cousin landed.

Did someone say we did ethics reform?

Oh yea, Happy New Year Joe!  

About David Whelan