ABCC Patronage and Why the Globe Thinks You Are Wicked Stupid

( – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

I’m thinking the Globe thinks you are a damn fool. I’m thinking they may be correct.

Patronage in state government, in my opinion, reduces the effectiveness of every agency and department, whether those agencies and departments are funded through the budget or whether they are quasi publics. Are we to believe that today’s righteous indignation of Murray, DeLeo, the Globe, et al are anything more than post probation depatment damage control? Do you honestly believe that Legislative “leadership” did not know that the ABCC was staffed, almost exclusively, with patronage hires? Do you believe, as I do, that the only thing that upsets the legislators involved is the mere fact that they got caught?

To paraphase Captain Renault from Casablanca:

“I’m shocked, shocked to find patronage going on at the ABCC!”

From an editorial in Sunday’s Globe

Only relatives need apply? Beverage board is a disgrace

MANY GLOBE readers surely choked on their coffee last week upon learning that the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission had once cited the need to engage in political patronage as a reason why it didn’t hire a 57-year-old African-American veteran. The story in Monday’s paper confirmed what public agencies almost never admit: that some jobs funded with taxpayer money are reserved for cronies and hacks.

The veteran in question, a man named Ronald Bridges, filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination when the alcohol agency passed him over for jobs in 2001 and 2002. In the legal wrangling that followed, the agency offered an astonishing defense: According to MCAD documents, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission asserted that the two positions available had gone to relatives of state legislators. Had they not, the commission insisted, the Legislature wouldn’t have provided the money for them in the first place. And sure enough, the jobs went to the son of state Representative John Binienda and the brother of then-Representative Paul Kujawski.

From the MetroWest Daily News, July 12, 2003, eight years ago:

Patronage at the ABCC

Gov. Mitt Romney saw this gravy train for what it was and, soon after taking office, threw out the guns and golf policies and laid off the 11 investigators. Somehow the Commonwealth has survived their absence.

The investigators include the son of a state representative, the brother of a state representative, a former aide to a state senator, the former driver for House Ways and Means Chairman John Rogers, a former aide to the secretary of state and the next-door neighbor of a governor’s councilor. Coincidence? We think not.

Responding to the grave injustice done to these good ol’ boys, the House restored the positions in the budget, knowing that union rules require the employees laid off to be the first hired back. Romney vetoed the provision. This week, the Legislature overrode the veto, in the process moving supervision from the ABCC to the office of Treasurer Timothy Cahill, a Democrat who presumably will be more sensitive to the employment needs of loyal Democrats.

Hence, the taxpayers will pay $940,000 to keep the hangers-on hanging on. Meanwhile, rape crisis centers across the state are closing because the Legislature can’t come up with $1.7 million.

Murray, DeLeo, and Grossman express shock (this week)

Legislative leaders are expressing concern after a report that the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission paid out about $1.7 million to resolve three employment disputes in the past two years.

Senate President Therese Murray said she wants to know why the ABCC agreed to the settlements.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo called the report “disturbing”

State Treasurer Steve Grossman – who oversees the ABCC – has asked the state inspector general to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review.



So eight years after vetoing Romney on the ABCC and handing over control to Treasurer Tim, DeLeo, Murray, the Globe, et al are suprised and “shocked” to find out that the ABCC is a bit of a haven for hacks.

Here’s a good idea. Let’s start a discussion with this cast of characters in the lead on casinos. No thanks! Any chance there might be a job or two for a son, daughter, cousin or even a contributor? I’m guessing you can bet your life on it.

I’ve made the case previously that patronage at its core is stealing and should be treated as if the patron walked into the state treasury and left with pockets full of dollars belonging to the Commonwealth. Unfortunately it is as much a part of the Beacon Hill culture as last second budget deals and the lack of transparency.

Don’t be shocked by all this. It’s what we put up with and exactly why it is my view that not a state agency or deptartment within state goverment does not include a person who’s qualifications include only a well placed relative or a $500 donation. In other words, the Globe could extend its soon-to-be demise if it got serious with its Spotlight Team. Talk about job security!

We Reap What We Sow!

About David Whelan