Baker getting nicked by those around him

Governor racing ahead to finish line in hopes of avoiding growing problems

NOVEMBER 6 CAN’T come soon enough for Gov. Charlie Baker.

The Republican who is more popular with Democrats than his own party is getting nicked by clouds of scandal around him and at some point, those tiny cuts could cause him to bleed out before Election Day.

The latest problem for Baker is the suspension of Col. James McGinn, the head of the Massachusetts Environmental Police. It’s not just the fact McGinn heads up a department within the Baker administration but rather his ties to the governor that resulted in his appointment to the post. McGinn is a retired State Police sergeant who served as Baker’s driver before landing the plum $132,215 post.

“I’ve known Jim for a long time and he has 20 years as a state police officer,” Baker told Boston Herald Radio in defending the promotion a couple years back. “He left the force as a sergeant, he worked for FEMA as a disaster recovery specialist.”

Baker, though, was silent on the suspension yesterday, leaving it to a spokesman for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to confirm that McGinn was suspended without pay “pending the completion of an internal review of operational issues.”

McGinn has been in the middle of a number of tempests since his appointment, including trying to transfer an employee who claimed she was pressured to get her fiancé to drop his Senate challenge to a Republican incumbent. He also has come under fire for allegedly promoting friends and demoting disloyal employees.

More recently, reports surfaced that officers in the force were collecting overtime by working split shifts as well as some getting paid while working from home. It’s unclear if any of these issues triggered the harsh step – for Baker – of an unpaid suspension. But it’s a new problem the notoriously cautious governor can ill afford to hang.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

Baker is still trying to clean up the mess from the ongoing payroll problems at the State Police. He’s also increasingly being hounded over what is happening with the investigation into allegations his son groped a women on a flight from Washington, DC, to Boston back in June.

Baker, who has pretty much been seen as a nice guy with little personal baggage, is now in a position to have to explain the actions of those closest to him and why he shouldn’t bear the responsibility. None of these growing scandals directly involve Baker but who ever said politics and perception are fair?