DeLeo’s extended term dalliance

Federal prosecutors never went directly after House Speaker Robert DeLeo in the recently concluded Probation Department trial that snared three key department officials. But by labeling him an unindicted co-conspirator, they did just enough to mar his reputation going forward.

Instead of keeping his head down, DeLeo — who expressed outrage at the feds’ muddying him up without filing actual charges —  says he is “flattered” by the interest in hip-checking speakership term limits into the dustbin of history.

 

In some state houses, troubles of DeLeo’s sort might prompt a full-scale rush for the speaker’s chair. Instead, the only chatter about DeLeo’s reign has revolved around the idea of a possible move to extend the rule limiting the speaker to eight years in power. If left unchanged, it would allow DeLeo one more full two-year term as speaker starting in January.

The idea that there could be an effort to extend DeLeo’s term started with Boston magazine’s David Bernstein. But, at least publicly, it seems to be ending with him, too.

Andy Metzger of the State House News Service found that despite DeLeo’s claims that there has been “a lot of discussion” about getting rid of term limits, most members, including a string of trusted DeLeo lieutenants he spoke with, say they have heard no talk about the issue.

One member offered general support for the term limit rule, even while making sure to praise effusively DeLeo’s leadership. Worthington’s Stephen Kulik, the House Ways and Means Committee vice chairman, called terms limits a “good idea,” even with the “very successful leadership” shown by DeLeo.

It might seem to strain credibility for House members to say they aren’t talking among themselves about the speaker’s power grab, and, what if anything, they should do about it. But, as Metzger writes, “Initiatives within the House are not necessarily widely known among the members.”

The calculus in the House appears to be that it is better to say nothing publicly about term limits lest one incur DeLeo’s wrath. The legend of Charlie Murphy still serves as a powerful deterrent.

Perhaps DeLeo’s brush with US Attorney Carmen Ortiz should give him pause about making so bold a power play so soon. But with his members cowed and an apathetic electorate expecting shenanigans at every turn, DeLeo seems confident that he’ll be able to consolidate his power in the House under the next governor, and perhaps even for a while beyond.  

GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

The state is boosting rents for yacht and boat clubs renting state land, CommonWealth reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera has scheduled a Thursday press conference on the $600,000 needed to fix streets his predecessor William Lantigua had paved in the run-up to last year’s election. Could “Pavegate,” as Rivera is calling the scandal, become an issue for Lantigua in his current race for state rep? Check out CommonWealth’s map of pavegate.

Organizers of an effort to recall Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, who they charge has failed his fiduciary duties, have gotten the certification from election officials to start the drive to collect signatures for the recall, which they must do within 20 days.

In a much-anticipated move for which local class warriors like Kevin Cullen must be champing at the bit, the Beacon Hill Civic Association has filed suit against the city of Boston over its plans to install handicapped-accessible ramps of a quality that the group says are not in keeping with the neighborhood’s historic character.

Mike Ross issues a plaintive plea: With Tom Menino now gone can Boston please join the rest of the advanced municipal world and adopt the 311 system for reporting non-emergency problems.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana compare it to same-sex marriage, pointing out they were both polarizing issues that are now becoming accepted by mainstream America.

ELECTIONS

A super PAC supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman downshifts, CommonWealth reports.

Peter Lucas, in his Lowell Sun column, says the Probation Department hiring scandal is tailor made for Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, but that Baker so far has been careful not to demonize Beacon Hill leaders such as House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

The Globe’s Tom Farragher says it’s high time for do-nothing congressman John Tierney to go, but then laments the fact that the voters probably won’t give him the boot.

Michael Dukakis hits the stump again for lieutenant governor candidate Mike Lake, the Gloucester Times reports.

The Newburyport News highlights the growing clout of ActBlue in Democratic fundraising.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

On Greater Boston, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash discuss the roles politicians are playing in the ongoing Market Basket feud. The chain sends letters to 200 employees telling them they must return to work by Friday or lose their jobs, the Gloucester Times reports.

A new report from the Boston Fed highlights the surprisingly high rate of suburban poverty in New England.

The problem of suburban poverty is the focus of a 2013 book by researchers at the Brookings Institution and of this Conversation interview in CommonWealth with one of the authors.

Light bulb maker Osram Sylvania is shutting down its Danvers headquarters and moving its operations to Wilmington, the Salem News reports.

The Cabot Street Cinema in Beverly is under agreement to be sold, raising concerns about the future of the historic theater, the Salem News reports.

EDUCATION

Oregon voters will decide this fall whether to use bond funds to create a statewide trust fund for higher education scholarships, Governing reports.

TRANSPORTATION

Keller@Large, the state’s official curmudgeon, says drivers who hesitate and fail to accelerate immediately at green lights deserve contempt of those waiting a few seconds behind them.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Kingston Board of Health ordered the owners of the Independence wind turbine, near Route 3, to lower the noise level at night, even if it means shutting down.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A cousin of Aaron Hernandez pleaded guilty to contempt charges for refusing to testify before a grand jury and was sentenced to two years’ of probation and a year of home confinement.

MEDIA/ARTS

Robin Williams’ death prompts an outpouring of tributes at Boston sites connected to the beloved actor and comedian, including the park bench in the Boston Public Garden that was the location of a famous scene in the movie Good Will Hunting.

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

Lauren Bacall, sultry screen star and half of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated marriages — to Humphrey Bogarthas died at age 89.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait continues his assault on the data behind last weekend’s New York Times Magazine cover story on libertarianism.