Sam Sutter, politician

No one will ever accuse Sam Sutter, the newly elected mayor of Fall River, of being dumb or blind. Or of lacking ambition.

Sutter, the soon-to-be-former Bristol district attorney, saw an opening with the troubles of Mayor Will Flanagan and drove a truck through it straight to City Hall, using his name recognition in this week’s recall election to top the field of eight, including Flanagan.

If it sounds familiar, it is. Sutter used a similar formula of voter dissatisfaction with his predecessor in the prosecutor’s office, Paul Walsh, to upend Walsh in a primary in 2006. Walsh’s office at the time was involved in a controversial case in which a former Taunton police officer was allowed to plead guilty to charges of indecent assault on a child but, because of the deal, was not required to register as a sex offender.

But anyone who thought Sutter was going to be content to live out his days as a district attorney should not be allowed to drive a car because they clearly miss obvious signs. Sutter has made noise over the years about eyeing higher office, though he never quite pulled the trigger until 2012. That year, he took on US Rep. William Keating in a primary for the newly drawn Ninth Congressional District, though he was handily defeated.

But it apparently did little to sate his appetite. And he clearly understood that his best bet was getting out from under the weight of the prosecutor role, one that has defined many an unsuccessful candidate looking to move on. All Sutter needed to do was look around at the fortunes of well-established Democrats from Frank Bellotti to Scott Harshbarger to Tom Reilly to Martha Coakley to realize the wall to his ceiling was lined with law books. He toyed with the idea of running for AG but ultimately decided against it, citing the need to prepare for the upcoming Aaron Hernandez murder trial, preparation that apparently was completed prior to running for mayor a couple months later. No mention that the attorney general’s office is where ambition goes to die.

One inkling of Sutter’s wandering eye came in September when his office dropped charges against environmental activists who had used a lobster boat to block a coal shipment to Brayton Point Power Station. Sutter bought the “climate change defense” and was hailed by progressives around the country, although pilloried by conservatives for allowing a district attorney’s office to base prosecution decisions on political stances. Shortly after the decision, Sutter joined the September 21 march in New York to protest climate change, which his office touted all over social media.

And Sutter clearly knows his path to better digs (not that there’s anything wrong with the newly decorated offices at City Hall thanks to Flanagan) goes through the Democratic Party. Vacancies in a district attorney’s post are filled by gubernatorial appointment. There had been speculation about whether the opportunity to appoint a new DA would fall to outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick or to Gov.-elect Charlie Baker after he takes office next month.

The results of the election will not be certified until December 26, a 10-waiting period required by law to allow for recount challenges, of which there will be none since Sutter easily outpolled Flanagan, 36 percent to 26 percent, with the other six candidates splitting the remainder. Because the 26th falls on a Friday, the earliest Sutter could be sworn in would be the following Monday, December 29.

There have been questions about whether it would be right for Patrick to get one final chance to appoint another Democrat on his way out the door or whether Baker should have an opportunity to run a deliberative process and appoint a Republican successor.

The answer to what’s likely to happen was buried in a throwaway line in a story in this morning’s New BedfordStandard-Times about any recommendations Sutter might have about who should get the appointment.

“I want to discuss this first with Gov. Patrick before I say something publicly,” Sutter said.

Mrs. Sutter didn’t raise no fools.

JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

The Governor’s Council approves one clemency request and two pardons, the Associated Press reports.

The state Department of Transportation may build a new headquarters building on a Roxbury parcel near the Boston police headquarters, a move that would be a big boon to redevelopment of the area and free up prime space at the department’s current headquarters in Park Square.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Lawrence City Council seems poised to take a vote of no confidence in Mayor Dan Rivera in connection with 14 personnel decisions he made, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

In the wake of President Obama’s announcement that the US will normalize relations with Cuba, U.S. News & World Report reconstructs the history of relations between the two countries, going back to Christopher Columbus. Boston area Cubans react to the news. Kevin Cullen has the backstory on an interesting set of Boston connections to the breakthrough.

US officials conclude North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures hack, the New York Times reports. Meanwhile, with five theater chains balking at showing The Interview, Sony pulls the film off its release schedule.The National Review calls on Sony to release the movie online if the company is too afraid of showing it in theaters.Globe film critic Ty Burr considers the dangerous precedent Sony is setting.

Bloomberg Politics argues that, with allies like Sen. Ted Cruz in tow, winning a prize like Senate majority leader isn’t what it used to be.

ELECTIONS

Nate Cohn weighs the relative importance of politics and personality in a Republican primary.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Braintree couple whose 8-year-old son died in July from an E. coli infection from what they claim was tainted beefis suing Whole Foods Market and the ranch that supplied the meat after the state matched DNA of the ground beef to that of two others who were sickened.

EDUCATION

The president of UMass, Robert Caret, is leaving to become chancellor of the University of Maryland, the Associated Press reports. Here’s a Conversation interview with Caret in CommonWealth when he first took over the UMass system in 2011.

Peabody begins discussing whether to lengthen the school day, the Item reports.

HEALTH CARE

State health officials slap Steward Health Care with $1,000-a-week fines for failing to turn over its consolidated financial statements, CommonWealth reports. Meanwhile, Steward offers a commitment to keep the emergency room at Quincy Medical Center open for a year after they close the hospital at the end of this month.

A new state report says large hospital systems continued their consolidation march and increasing dominance of the Massachusetts health care landscape over the last five years.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Cape Wind says it won’t have its financing in place this year, which means the offshore wind farm may not be able to meet a make-or-break deadline, CommonWealth reports.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo bans fracking in New York, and to offset the economic impact, proposes three more casinos, the New York Times reports. Scientists remain divided on whether fracking poses hazards to the environment.

The town of Hingham has won its appeal of the federal flood zone map that added 500 homes and a number of businesses to the flood plain, subjecting them to drastically higher premiums.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Fourteen executives from Framingham-based New England Compounding Center face a raft of federal charges, including second-degree murder, for their roles in the dissemination by the now-shuttered company of contaminated injectable drugs in 2012 that have been tied to 64 deaths and illnesses among about 700 patients across 20 states.

Can Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get a fair trial in Boston? Some legal experts are surprised that the trial has not been moved.

Prosecutors announced indictments including more than 200 charges against a New Hampshire man involving horrific sexual attacks on and restraint of a New Hampshire teen who disappeared for nine months beginning  in October 2013.

MEDIA

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.

Greater Boston offers a Year in Review wrap, including a discussion on the return of racial tensions in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and a winners and losers list for 2014 that includes some low-hanging fruit and a few head-scratching entries.

The American Spectator dispenses with its “Enemy of the Week” feature, which largely featured the Obama administration — and replaces it with “Enemy of the Day,” which will largely feature the Obama administration and various Democrats and their supporters.