The inside games of Murray and Bump

Here’s a question for everybody out there who wants to be governor, as well as the people who are in the business of charging this first group of people several thousand dollars per month in consulting fees: If Massachusetts voters have a clear pattern of choosing political outsiders over ladder-climbing, machine-building pols, where’s the upside in playing crude politics?

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and Auditor Suzanne Bump are today’s case studies in not helping yourself. Both have been caught in the middle of the sorts of odious power plays that tend to extinguish political ambitions, not advance them.

Murray gets taken to the woodshed today by Globe columnist Scot Lehigh, who roundly mocks the LG’s political ties to former Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael McLaughlin. A Friday Globe story detailed the relationship between Murray and McLaughlin, who has a less than savory political reputation, and whom Lehigh labels as “a scheming, manipulative, greedy, public-trust-abusing practitioner of old-style politics.” McLaughlin was “the lieutenant governor’s guy in the Merrimack Valley,’’ one source told the Globe. “They were as tight as you can get,” a legislator tells Lehigh. This, despite repeatedly being warned about the potential political repercussions of being seen bedding down with McLaughlin.

Lehigh paints a picture of Murray as a pol who trades public-sector jobs for political support. In addition to recommending McLaughlin’s son for a plum job at the Registry, Lehigh accuses Murray of “socking away loyalists and cultivating allies at the many housing authorities across the state.” Now is as good a time as any to note that Boston magazine’s Murray profile was titled “Hack in Action.”

The question for Murray is, what’s the benefit of hitching your political star to the Mike McLaughlins of the world? There’s a strong current in Massachusetts politics that rejects machine-based establishment candidates for the state’s highest offices. Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney, Bill Weld, and Scott Brown all fit this narrative. The roster of failed ladder-climbing establishment-type candidates is equally compelling. Just ask Guy Glodis, or any of the recent travelers in the Middlesex DA to Attorney General to Higher Office TBD pipeline.

Enter Suzanne Bump. The new state auditor has worked very hard to dispel the caricature that she was painted with during last fall’s campaign — that she’s a party hack who’s mostly intent on looking out for her friends, and advancing her own political star while she’s at it. Bump has shined up her image by going after her predecessor Joe DeNucci, who was partially responsible for landing her on the Democratic ballot in the first place. Bump has made it clear that DeNucci ran an inefficient, hack-laden operation, and that she’s not interested in following suit.

Still, today’s Herald splash makes Bump look like anything but a crusading reformer. The paper runs with a fundraising appeal from a Bump supporter, who hits up several charities for donations by noting, “The State Auditor is one of the organizations that is responsible for regulatory compliance of your organization.” It turns out that some of the charities that received the fundraising invitation are either being audited, or are in line for an audit soon. One recipient tells the paper that the fundraising appeal “makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I know it’s made a number of my members extremely uncomfortable. It has all the aspects of a potential conflict of interest, and I think it’s very poor judgment. … If it’s legal in Massachusetts, I’m not sure it should be.” Bump says she was unaware of the solicitation and doesn’t accept money from groups she’s auditing.

                                                                                                                                                        –PAUL MCMORROW


In a letter to colleagues, assistant majority leader Charles Murphy disputed claims of disloyalty to House speaker Robert DeLeo, and said he’d look forward to an opportunity to be heard if the speaker attempts to remove him.


New Bedford officials agreed to the largest settlement in the city’s history by accepting $2.6 million and a 3.2-acre site worth another $400,000 towards the $12 million cleanup of a contaminated railroad site.

SJC Justice Robert Cordy yesterday approved a state takeover of the Chelsea Housing Authority, whose director and board members resigned following a scandal over director Michael McLaughlin’s exorbitant salary.

A huge turnout may force the relocation of a special Plainville Town Meeting to Wrentham.

North Attleboro goes back to a dual property tax rate that shifts some burdens onto commercial property owners.


Governing reports that three-fourths of the federal grant funding that states receive is immune from sequestration cuts and they won’t take effect until January 2013. The Globe reports that Massachusetts would see cuts to some of its most important industries: health care, defense, and research.

The Globe editorial page calls the supercommittee’s failure “a victory for the politics of litmus tests and pressure groups.” The Atlantic traces the committee’s implosion back to Newt Gingrich’s 1994 House takeover. The New York Times explains President Obama’s role in the committee fight as a political calculation: He figured “Republicans will never agree to raise taxes on the wealthy to balance any spending cuts, so let the voters decide.” US Rep. Jeb Hensarling, one of the supercommittee’s most conservative members, gives his take on the committee’s unraveling in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column. A Journal editorial chalks up the impasse to intractable political differences, lavishes praise on Grover Norquist, and says the episode will frame the 2012 elections.

The American Spectator says President Obama should draw on his affinity for all things Massachusetts and model his presidency after another Bay State favorite son, the conservative Republican Calvin Coolidge.

Michael Goldman, in his column for the Lowell Sun, suggests the pendulum of politics may be swinging back toward Democrats.

Occupy Memphis members come together with local Tea Party activists for a discussion. Hear it on WBUR’s Here & Now.

Justice Department lawyers set up Ted Stevens.


In the wake of the failure of the supercommittee, the debate over deficit reduction will move to the presidential campaign trail; that is, both Democrats and Republicans are hoping to win enough votes to take over both houses of Congress next year, so that a plan can get through without opposition.

The Washington Post looks at Mitt Romney’s tenure as a Mormon bishop in Massachusetts and how he dealt with women’s issues. Romney releases an anti-Obama ad in New Hampshire, just in time for the president’s arrival in the state.

Newt Gingrich announces his 10-member National Security Advisory team, many drawn form the Reagan and Bush I administrations.

The racketeering trial of US Rep. John Tierney’s brother-in-law continues to not help the congressman’s political cause: Yesterday, Tierney’s wife was on the stand, and prosecutors went fishing for what she and the congressman knew about the family internet gambling business. On the stand yesterday, Patrice Tierney said she still believes her brother is just a consultant. The episode has the Herald speculating that Tierney may face a Democratic primary challenger, in addition to former Lieutenant Governor hopeful Richard Tisei.


Foreclosures are on the rise again in Massachusetts.

Newsweek examines the Bloomberg juggernaut, fueled by terminals that funnel data to business insiders.

US News & World Report has five reasons the economy will be better in 2012, none of them including it can’t get much worse.


Charles Chieppo, in a column for Governing, reports on the nation’s failure to attract the best and the brightest to teaching.

California’s on-campus Occupy movement is morphing into a crusade against tuition hikes.


A seventh grade student at Boston Latin Academy dies of bacterial meningitis, NECN reports.

Paul Levy points out eight problems that contribute to the high cost of health care that cannot be mitigated by “bundled” payments, which he said is premised on patient over-treatment, which he calls a minimal problem compared to other unaddressed areas.

Arlington,Gardner, Methuen, and Somerville have saved more than $18 million together under the new state health care law that gives municipalities more leeway in bargaining with unions to control costs. The law could ultimately give cities and towns more than the $100 million in projected savings according to Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez.


Transportation Secretary Richard Davey is eyeing a combination of fare hikes and cuts to suburban bus routes and nighttime commuter rail service to close a $161 million deficit at the MBTA.


Radio Boston discusses the successful cleanup of the Charles River.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reprimanded the owner of the Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth for its May shutdown of the reactor and ordered another inspection to ensure all problem areas have been addressed.

A Chinese trade group is accusing the United States of selling polysilicon, the material used to make solar panels, below cost in China


Greater Boston looks at Cardinal Bernard Law’s retirement from his Vatican post and the prelate’s legacy here in Boston.


In his column for the Globe, Paul McMorrow argues that Boston’s recent apartment-building spree isn’t enough to make a dent in sky-high rent prices.


Dan Kennedy is spreading his media observation empire, debuting a column on Huff Post with the maiden entry on the Jim Romenesko/Poynter Institute dust-up.