The Hill and the Hall Week in Review
Each Friday, Paul McMorrow will take you inside the smoke-filled rooms and darkly-lit corridors of government to bring you the hottest and juiciest political tidbits. This Week: World traveler Matt Amorello probably should have read the fine print; Worcester Sheriff Guy Glodis slapfights John Kerry; Mike Flaherty hires a consultant; while The Hill tries its unregistered hand at lobbying.
World traveler/embattled ex-public servant Matt Amorello was not in India last week. That’s because he was stuck on Beacon Hill, very nearly weeping while angrily insisting that he’s not a crook. Don’t laugh yet. Amorello isn’t just a not-crook; he’s also a sound manager who has the state’s best financial interests at heart.
That was the line the former Turnpike head fed to the state Ethics Commission this week. In his final days at the agency, you see, other people wanted to allow Pike employees to cash out 100 percent of their unused sick time. They knew Mitt Romney was about to clean house, and they wanted to pork the system for as much as they could, while they could. Not Amorello. Because he only raised the buyback ceiling to 50 percent, and because he acted all angry as he did it, Amorello should be the hero here, not the victim.
So says Amorello.
The bureaucrat makes a less than convincing case for himself. While his altruism may be commendable. (He totally cursed out the patsy who changed the buyback policy; it was so blue that “I can’t use the words I said in this setting,” he testified). Not to mention his restraint. (He “did nothing … to enhance my position at all” because he passed up the chance to trade in his unused sick time for $73,000, and instead settled for a miserable $110,000-plus severance package).
Those qualities might not be enough to stave off a guilty verdict before the Ethics Commission.
That’s because, while Amorello has proven himself to be more than adept at things like not supervising massive public works projects, he appears to be less skilled at reading. The ethics complaint against him says the buyback policy change represented an “unwarranted privilege of substantial value” for himself and for “his senior staff.” Since five of his top aides used the altered policy to net $130,000—his chief of staff, for one, enjoyed a nearly $59,000 payday—well, let’s just say that we may not have seen the last time the former Pike boss get teary-eyed for the cameras.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones issued a press release Monday announcing that during last week’s marathon sessions the North Reading rep had cast his 4,500th consecutive roll call vote. By the time all his “Nay” votes were swatted away, he’d topped 4,600 straight votes. The lesson here, it appears, is that Republicans are better at timing their jaunts to St. Croix than Democrats are.
Turns out that the talents wielded by Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis extend far beyond making penis jokes on TV. The guy can be a total bastard during election season, too.
Glodis didn’t endorse Democratic Senate hopeful Ed O’Reilly this week. And that’s about all he didn’t do. In a flame-throwing interview with State House News, Glodis (he works for the state, you know) explained his decision to invite O’Reilly to a Shrewsbury senior citizen picnic thusly: “I’ve invited John Kerry numerous times in the past, which he has never showed up at.”
That wasn’t gratuitous enough, so Glodis added that the “seven or eight times” he’s bumped into O’Reilly in the past month have been “more than I’ve met John Kerry in the entire 20-plus years he’s represented the Commonwealth.”
Even though weather on the Cape hasn’t been great lately, City Hall has been relatively quiet. Look for that to change in the coming weeks. Michael Flaherty, who is said by some people (and by some people, we mean every person ever) to be interested in the din-filled mayor’s office, has begun putting his newly acquired wealth to work.
Flaherty recently dropped a sizable chunk ($36,000) of his epic $132,000 June fundraising haul with Cambridge-based Web 2.0 consultants SocialSphere. John Della Volpe, the firm’s founder, also runs polling for Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Della Volpe did some consulting and polling work for Flaherty last year, but this current job looks to be heavier lifting: It cost more than twice what last year’s jobs did. OCPF filings bill the expenditure as “research.”
And while the Southie councilor takes the temperature of the electorate, or the Internet, or Facebooking Menino-hating young voters who remain ungrateful for their new bicycle lanes, or whatever else he’s polling, he’s also laying plans to have Hizzoner’s good name dragged through the gutter this fall.
Flaherty’s special City Council committee on moving City Hall has finally scheduled a hearing—for mid-September. It’ll be the encore to last year’s red-raced, book-throwing spectacular, and it’s sure to throw several dozen embarrassing questions in the administration’s face. Naturally, the television cameras will be there to soak it all in.
And don’t forget about last week—Flaherty issued an email accusing Hizzoner of enabling the Fire Department abuses it’s now railing against. Calls for internal documents and justice and the like can’t be far behind. He’ll whittle down that 72 percent approval rating yet…
The Hill and the Hall is putting on its unregistered lobbyist hat and demanding action on Beacon Hill. Lots of bills died unnecessary deaths in the session’s final days. One of them is hurting America right now.
Here’s how. The legislature could have passed a bill trading looser caps on campaign contributions for more frequent campaign finance reporting. There was support for the idea in committee. And if such a trade had taken place, journalists reporting on the few competitive races that are heating up right now wouldn’t be doing so while flying blind.
As things stand, nobody running for the legislature has to disclose pre-primary fundraising and expenditure data until the week before the vote. Somebody could be up to nothing good, and nobody would know! And that, dear friends, makes the Statue of Liberty cry blood.
Photoshopped image of Matt Amorello from TollRoadsNews, used by permission