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March 30, 2018

Democrats at Center of Ethical Mess
Scandal proves Beacon Hill ‘remains a sewer’
Hillary Chabot, Boston Herald

Beacon Hill Democrats — battered by multiple high-profile harassment scandals during an election year — could now face more intense questions about State House

abuses of power following yesterday’s sex assault indictment against former Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg’s husband, observers said.

“This is a monumental scandal that could impact multiple careers,” said Tom Whalen, Boston University political history professor, about the criminal sexual assault charges against Bryon Hefner.

“How could lawmakers not know what was happening with the way this guy bragged? The Democratic leadership have to be sweating right now,” Whalen said.

And the opposition is not shy about making the point. Massachusetts GOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes said, “It’s clear that Senate Democrats will be unable to credibly separate themselves from the toxic, unaccountable culture they created, which allowed this kind of alleged assault and abuse of power to occur. This fall, voters will be ready to create more balance and accountability in the Legislature by electing more Republicans who will deliver honest, reform- oriented leadership.”

Hefner, 30, was indicted yesterday on felony charges of

sexual assault, criminal lewdness and distributing nude photos without consent. He also had access to Rosenberg’s state email account and

often boasted of legislative influence.

Senate President Harriette L. Chandler called the charges “deeply disturbing.” State Sen. Karen Spilka, who is expected to take over as senate president next year, admitted, “This is the latest turn in one of the toughest periods in the history of the state Senate.”

September 13, 2018

Open Government? - Not So Fast

By Matt Murphy

The lead House lawmaker in charge of reviewing ways to make state government and the Legislature more transparent said Wednesday that something as simple as posting committee testimony online could prove challenging given the technology available to the Legislature.

A coalition of open government advocates recommended to a special commission of House and Senate lawmakers that the Legislature take steps to improve the public’s access to decision-making on Beacon Hill. Those steps include posting online lists of people who testify before committees on legislation and any written testimony submitted to committees.

“This isn’t radical. In a way, we’re playing catch-up to some other states,” said Gavi Wolfe, of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg), who is co-chairing a special commission on public records access, told the panel, however, that even a change such as that might no be so simple.

“The logistic of it may take quite a bit of time to implement and some of that is out of this commission’s control, in terms of web site management,” Benson said, explaining that “committees do not have their own web pages that we can add things to.”

House and Senate committee do have their own web pages that include a list of the members on the committees, bills referred to that committee, and hearing dates for those bills. Benson, however, told the News Service that Legislative Information Services controls all content on those web pages, including a representative’s biography, and any changes must be processed centrally through LIS.

Benson also told advocates assigning additional tasks to staff that she said are already stretched thin might be overly burdensome.

“We have very few staffers, so that extra level of training and effort, it’s trying,” she said. Continue to original article.

March 20, 2018

DeLeo's non-disclosure remark was tone-deaf - at least (Editorial)

The Massachusetts State House has had a culture that accepts non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, but objections to its use as a "silencing tactic" with victims is being heard in Boston.

By The Republican Editorials


Calling Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo's observation about non-disclosure agreements "tone-deaf" is being kind.

State Rep. Diana DiZoglio considered it worse than that, after DeLeo said non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements were "part of doing business" while staffers on Beacon Hill and other critics are calling them silencing tactics.

DeLeo's office said since 2010, some 33 people working for the House were offered "a small severance payment in exchange for executing a written agreement." He said fewer that two a year have come up during his time as speaker, and that the agreements were never used to settle sexual harassment claims.

If the agreements are indeed "part of doing business" in the State House, it's bad business that illustrates the accepted culture of sweeping harassment claims and other grievances under the rug. It's gone on so long that it no longer seems as wrong as it is.

DiZoglio is using descriptions of her own personal experience to make that point. She said that as a legislative aide in 2011, DeLeo's office told her she would not receive a severance package without signing a non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement.

According to DiZoglio, she had to leave her job because false rumors involving herself and a state representative were overwhelming. DiZoglio's story is compelling, but finding fault in the accepted practice of non-disclosure agreements doesn't even need individual examples.

DeLeo's remark ignores a basic difference between State House jobs and most other occupations. Elected and appointed officials, as well as government staffers, work in the public sector.

This brings a responsibility of transparency beyond that in the normal private sector job. Anyone who doesn't think that's fair is under no obligation to work in the public sector - or for that matter, run for office.

It's also no secret that many non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements are not signed by free choice but under duress. DiZoglio's story articulates such an example.

Any level of awareness would bring acknowledgment that many such agreements, in both public and private work, are made because the signer is at a financial or professional disadvantage and feels he or she has no choice.

DiZoglio wants the agreements eliminated entirely. Presumably alluding to how different sexual harassment cases bring different circumstances, DeLeo says victims should have the option.

Politicians in Boston say they're serious about cleaning up sexual harassment and abuse that's been going on for as long as powerful people have used that power unethically. If they mean it, they can start by remembering they work for the public, a calling that demands transparency - and that agreements designed to keep secrets do nothing but damage the trust the people should be allowed to have in them.

April 26, 2017

Massachusetts House of Representatives:  A Farce in Two Acts

By NBP Editorial Board |

The lightning-fast approval of a $40 billion state budget by the Massachusetts House of Representatives this week offers a glimpse into what’s wrong around here.

Closed-door meetings, amendments shackled together or tossed aside — and then two days of debate and away we go.

Only one of the 160 members of the House voted against the state budget, state Representative James Lyons. The Andover Republican was quoted by State House News Service making a simple point:

“We really need to understand what we’re voting on, and we don’t.”

The sad fact is, a $20 million budget for a small town in the commonwealth gets far more scrutiny amid far more openness than the 2,000-times-larger state budget.

We’d like to see House Speaker-for-Life Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) try in a Town Hall what he routinely pulls on the floor of the Great and General Court — under the watchful eyes of the Sacred Cod, no less.

In a typical town in Massachusetts, the selectmen propose a budget, but then members of the town’s Finance Committee get to examine it and quiz town employees and elected officials on any details — in public meetings where reporters and other members of the public can attend and (often) ask questions. Then voters at Town Meeting can ask questions and offer amendments before voting on the budget.

That’s not to say the budget process in a town is always on the level. The fix is often in, of course. But at least residents have a chance to find out what’s going on and to have some influence over it.

Not so in our state Legislature.

The budget for fiscal year 2018 (which starts this coming July 1) is apparently too precious to allow the unwashed hands of the public to defile it. But not even all legislators get a clean shot at it.


Paul Craney, executive director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which advocates for transparency in government, notes that the trend in the House is to allow less and less time to discuss the budget in public session.

June 21, 2017

Massachusetts poll: Legislative pay raises unpopular with voters

BOSTON - Lawmakers’ decision to award themselves pay raises earlier this year was an unpopular move with around three quarters of the electorate, according to a poll sponsored by a conservative group that argues the pay hike could imperil progressives’ push for a tax hike next year.

The pay raise law, approved over Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto, increased the compensation of the speaker and the Senate president from about $97,000 to $142,000 while other lawmakers’ pay increased by lesser but still substantial amounts depending on their leadership positions or committee chairmanships. Continue to original article

March 5, 2018

Franklin Town Council's Casey seeks state rep. seat

By Scott Calzolaio 
MetroWest Daily News 

Posted Mar 5, 2018 at 6:32 PM Updated Mar 5, 2018 at 6:32 PM


FRANKLIN – Town Council member Patrick Casey has pulled papers to run as a Republican for the state rep seat for the 10th Norfolk District.

Incumbent and Democrat state Rep. Jeff Roy is the only other person to pull papers for the seat. The election will take place on Nov. 6. Candidates require 150 signatures to qualify as a candidate.

Casey was elected to the council in November 2017 and is one of the first of two millennials now serving on the town council.

He said that when ran for council he didn’t have his sights on the state seat. But when he started to realize that there are many people in the district who have the same thoughts and principles as he does, he said, he decided to it might be good to offer a conservative perspective in the Democrat-dominated Massachusetts House.

“I think it’s just the right time in my life to go for it,” he said. ”

He said from what he observed, the 10th Norfolk District has a relatively heavy, but somewhat hidden, conservative population that has been looking for the right candidate to project their views.

“I think both the GOP and the Democratic Party are trying to find a true identity right now,” he said. “It seems pretty fractured, it is a bizarre time.”

He said that seeking the middle ground between both parties in this politically tense era is something he hopes to enforce and implement, if elected.

Casey said he feels strongly about the opioid crisis. Volunteering on the advisory council for the SAFE coalition to combat addiction on a local level, he hopes that if elected he’ll be able to further advocate for state funding to help put a stop to the epidemic and addiction in general.

“I can speak about people I went to high school with that have passed away because of this issue,” he said. “Finding more treatment for people who need it, and finding education for kids as early as possible so they’re aware from the onset of the effects of opioids is so important.”

He said that bringing more awareness and attention to the crucial issue starts at the local level, and though overdose fatalities have slightly declined due to the use of Narcan, there is clearly much work to be done.

On other big-picture issues in Massachusetts such as DACA and transgender rights, Casey said he believes there is an unheard republican voice in the district that he would like to bring out.

“With issues like immigration, transgender bills, it’s just about having a more conservative voice in there to represent those constituents of Franklin and Medway.”

DACA he said, is a complicated topic to take a solid side on right now, seeing the issue from both angles.

“I can see why republicans get very nervous of just throwing up their hands and letting these people get off scott free, it can lead to a lot of other people pouring in,” he said. “It’s a really tough issue. It kills your heart, and it’s the last thing you want to see happen with these families, but I think one thing leads to the next if you’re not careful with these sorts of decisions.”

He said he plans on working with school committees and youth programs to educate students and parents on the effects of these issues in their own towns.

Scott Calzolaio can be reached at or 508-734-0389. Follow him on Twitter @ScottCaz

January 22, 2018

STATE HOUSE ROUNDUP -- Seeking a ‘new pathway’ on opioids


A little shallow digging into the memory banks, and Beacon Hill insiders will remember a time when not talking with the U.S. attorney was a good thing.....

One man who did get a meeting with President Donald Trump’s top cop in Boston -- Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan -- told lawmakers Lelling has no greater priority than policing the opioid and synthetic opioid crisis. Ryan shared those sentiments last week with a legislative committee vetting Baker’s latest proposal to fight the addiction epidemic by improving student prevention programming, licensing and credentialing treatment centers and recovery coaches and creating “new pathways” to treatment.

The main new pathway, which Baker refers to as a “soft handoff,” would be the involuntary transfer of overdose victims to treatment centers where they could be held for 72 hours to show them, or convince them, that there’s hope for a life without drugs.

The proposal is a scrubbed version of what the governor put forward in 2016, when he suggested that doctors be allowed to hold overdose victims in emergency rooms for up to 72 hours, and it appears it will face much of the same resistance that caused it to be dropped from a final opioid-abuse-prevention package. Continue to original article