In Galvin-DiMasi showdown, who’s the good guy?
BEACON HILL IS a funny place, and so it is that a backslapping former House speaker convicted of corruption charges is being cast as the good guy in a battle against a dour bureaucrat with an axe to grind.
Sal DiMasi left the public stage 10 years ago in disgrace, a once-powerful House speaker sent packing to federal prison after being convicted of taking a $65,000 payment to steer a multimillion-dollar state software contract to a company. It was about as clear a case as there is of a public official selling the services of his elected office.
After developing cancer while in prison, DiMasi was granted compassionate release in 2016, cutting short his 8-year sentence. With his cancer in remission, DiMasi looked to practice a different form of the same thing he’d done for decades — wheeling and dealing on Beacon Hill. This time, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of lots of other former pols and work as a lobbyist. (Indeed, his two immediate predecessors as speaker, both also convicted of felony charges, now work at the State House as lobbyists.)
Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who oversees lobbying registration and rules, objected, saying a 2009 state law barred anyone convicted on public corruption charges of working as a lobbyist for 10 years. DiMasi challenged that, arguing that the law specifically states that the prohibition applies to those convicted of state charges, not federal offenses. In July 2020, a Superior Court judge sided with DiMasi. Galvin appealed that ruling, a case that the Supreme Judicial Court will now hear.
Galvin has argued that it’s ridiculous to think lawmakers somehow wanted to give those convicted of federal corruption charges an exemption from the lobbying restrictions, but the earlier court decision ruled that’s precisely what the wording of the 2009 statute does.
Lucas says Galvin and DiMasi, who both entered elected office as Boston state reps in 1979, could not be “more different personalities.” He calls DiMasi an “outgoing, warm and popular personality.” Those aren’t terms often applied to Galvin, whom he calls a “political loner” who “has never forgotten or forgiven a slight.”
What he leaves out is that Galvin and DiMasi were once State House pals, part of a foursome of Boston state reps, along with Tom Finneran and Angleo Scaccia, who regularly huddled at North End restaurants to chew over plates of pasta and the latest State House machinations.
Asked two years ago about the lobbying showdown pitting the one-time friends against each other, several former House members said they knew of nothing personal that prompted Galvin to go after DiMasi, chalking it up instead to the seriousness with which Galvin takes his job.
Though Galvin may be a stickler for detail, one judge has already ruled that he got this one wrong.
Meanwhile, though DiMasi has never expressed full contrition for his crimes, Lucas casts him as the victim in the saga. “[H]aving gone through what he has gone through,” he writes, “and having paid the price — he deserves a second chance.”
Massachusetts will lift its outdoor mask mandate this Friday and will plan to be fully reopened by August. And with summer coming, residents can finally begin planning for a summer of fun, as the state next month loosens restrictions on ballparks, bars, theme parks, sports, and street festivals. High schools will reopen for in-person learning May 17. Gov. Charlie Baker refuses to say whether the state of emergency will be lifted when COVID restrictions are lifted. Read more.
Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration will leave it up to businesses and organizations to decide whether they want to adopt vaccination requirements for employees or patrons, and added that the executive branch of state government won’t require its employees to be vaccinated. “I don’t think we’re going to require people [working in the executive branch] to be vaccinated, no,” Baker said. Asked to explain his rationale, he said: “It’s still a free country last I checked. Read more.
Can anyone remember a time when the proponents and opponents of a successful ballot measure later came together to work to upgrade that measure after it became law? That’s what’s happening now with both humane organizations and egg producers working together to pass legislation that would strengthen Massachusetts’s historic farm animal protection initiative passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2016. Read more.
Patricia Meservey of Build International says infrastructure plays a key role in the right against COVID. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Unlike Gov. Charlie Baker (see above), Attorney General Maura Healey restates that she would require state employees to get vaccinated, calling it “a matter of public safety.” (GBH)
The Supreme Judicial Court unanimously sided with a black Brookline firefighter who says he was terminated because he complained about the racist work environment he was subjected to. (Boston Globe)
For the second straight day, Massachusetts reports fewer than 1,000 new COVID cases and the lowest number since November 2. (State House News Service)
Some at-home COVID tests have started making it to the market. (MassLive)
The Biden administration will limit the practice of arresting people on immigration violations near courthouses, curbing a practice that led to a federal lawsuit. (NPR)
US Rep. Richard Neal announces a sweeping plan that includes universal paid family and medical leave, guaranteed access to child care, and a permanent child-tax credit. (MassLive)
Former state rep. Evandro Carvalho jumps into the crowded field of candidates seeking to succeed Andrea Campbell on the Boston City Council. (Dorchester Reporter)
In an announcement that surprised no one at this point, state Sen. Nick Collins said he won’t run for mayor of Boston. (Boston Herald)
Most large Boston area employers are adopting a hybrid model going forward, a seismic shift with huge implications for commuting patterns and the commercial real estate market. (Boston Globe)
Boston will lift business restrictions about three weeks later than the rest of the state. (WBUR)
Boston College president Rev. William Leahy is facing criticism over his handling of student complaints in the late 1990s about the behavior of a priest who has now been accused by a former student of sexual assault. (Boston Globe)
Members are named to a new COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission, a task force created by the state’s economic development bill to address the recovery of the arts sector. (Herald News)
The Weymouth natural gas compressor station will be restarted, weeks after it was shut down due to another unplanned release of gas. (Patriot Ledger)
Pittsfield bars mosquito-control spraying from trucks. (Berkshire Eagle)
The Globe reports that Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins is now the odds-on favorite to be named US attorney, with the FBI concentrating all its background check efforts on her, not the two other finalists.
An investor who says he was duped by Jasiel Correira into putting money into a startup testifies at the former Fall River mayor’s federal corruption trial that he regarded him as a “boy wonder.” (Boston Globe)
Sen. Jo Comerford pens a commentary on why she is pushing legislation to ban the construction of any new prison space for five years. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
A study conducted by the union at Gannett finds major gender and racial pay disparities in 14 newsrooms. (Nieman Journalism Lab)A New York Post reporter resigned, saying she was “ordered to write” a story involving Vice President Kamala Harris that was almost entirely wrong. The piece went viral in conservative circles before the Post published a short correction retracting its main contention — that unaccompanied minor children were given a copy of a children’s book Harris wrote in their “welcome” kits at a California detention center. (Washington Post)
Two takes on the New York Times decision to do away with the term op-ed and replace it with guest essay: One take by media critic Jack Shafer in Politico and the other in Reason by a scholar offering an elegy.