The NOT-so-Accidental Treasurer

Timothy P. Cahill’s second-floor suite in the State House is next to the Great Hall and across the corridor from the House Ways and Means Committee. The governor’s office is around the corner and up the stairs. At the State House, where location has the same significance it does in residential real estate, Room 227 is a prime spot.

Two weeks after being sworn in as state treasurer, Cahill steps around his expansive desk and greets a visitor to his elegant wood-paneled inner office. “It’s bigger than my whole house,” he declares.

That house–where he and his wife, Tina, and four daughters live–is a modest colonial in Quincy Center, not far from where Cahill grew up. Before last year, his neighbors knew him mostly as a diligent, plain-spoken city councilor and as a potential mayoral candidate who never found the right time to run. Many also knew him as the owner of Handshakes, a Quincy Square sandwich shop that he opened in 1982 and ran until 1995, when he sold the business. To others, he was the wrestling coach at Quincy High School, the proud father on the sidelines of one of his daughters’ youth soccer games, or the husband of a popular physical education teacher at St. Ann’s Elementary School in the city’s Wollaston section.

No one familiar with South Shore politics was too surprised when Cahill bested his Democratic and Republican rivals in the race for Norfolk County treasurer in 1996. Quincy, a city of 88,000, is by far the largest municipality in the county, which stretches from the coast to Interstate 495 and then leapfrogs over Newton and Boston to take in Brookline. Quincy politicians have a tradition of leveraging their local celebrity to win obscure Norfolk County offices. (Cahill kept an eye on his base even after winning higher office, holding onto his City Council seat during the six years he served as Norfolk County treasurer.)

But Cahill’s entrepreneurial background didn’t mean that he was up to speed on government finance. After becoming county treasurer, he recalls, “I started reading The Wall Street Journal for the first time in my life so I would at least know the terminology.”

Six years later, he’s treasurer of the entire Commonwealth.

He’s also a newcomer to state government. Cahill never served in the state Legislature or worked for a state agency. As county treasurer, he had few occasions to visit the State House, and until he launched his bid for statewide office early last year, few on Beacon Hill had ever heard of him. Former state Rep. Michael Cahill of Beverly, who also ran for treasurer, was bewildered to discover another candidate named Cahill challenging him for the Democratic nomination. “I don’t want to be insulting, but I had no idea who this person was,” Michael Cahill told The Boston Globe.

State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill: “I feel that I’ve earned it.
I feel I’ve earned the right to be here.”

The Beacon Hill powerbrokers know who Tim Cahill is now. In the September primary, Cahill crushed three Democratic rivals–Mike Cahill, former state representative James Segel, and Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy. In November, he cruised past Republican Dan Grabauskas, who had spent most of his adult life in government posts. Now settling into the job and getting accustomed to the plush surroundings, 44-year-old Tim Cahill insists that he is not out of place.

“I feel that I’ve earned it,” he says. “I feel I’ve earned the right to be here.”

What he’s earned is his hand on the state’s purse strings. In many other states, treasurers play a minor role. Comptrollers, auditors, and budget directors have taken over the main duties of state treasurers, and a handful of states have moved to abolish the jobs, which date back to colonial times. In Massachusetts, though, the treasurer occupies a pivotal spot in the structure of state government. The treasurer handles almost all the cash that flows in and out of the state’s coffers. The treasurer borrows money to fund the state’s capital projects and to smooth out cash flow, oversees tens of millions of dollars in abandoned property, plays a major role in investing a $26 billion public employee pension fund, and manages a $4.2 billion, 400-employee state lottery, which has been a financial lifesaver for many cities and towns.

During the state’s current financial crunch, this money-handling and money-generating post has become more important than ever. “The treasurer needs to obsessively manage our money every single day,” says state Sen. Mark Montigny of New Bedford, former Ways and Means chairman and now head of the Senate Committee on Long-Term Debt.

The treasurer can also, on occasion, be an important check on the governor. Treasurer Shannon O’Brien put a spotlight on Big Dig spending under Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1999, when she refused to authorize a bond offering and thereby helped to expose $1.4 billion in overruns.

“It is important to have an independent voice [in the] treasurer monitoring the state’s cash position,” says Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

In addition, the treasurer regulates banks and acts as the steward of some $280 million per year in money from the national tobacco settlement, as well as a fund that lends up to $350 million per year to cities and towns for upgrading sewer systems. The treasurer also directly controls hundreds of jobs in the treasury itself and at the Lottery. Given the visibility, clout, and patronage potential of the job, it’s not surprising that the last two treasurers–Democrat O’Brien and Republican Joseph Malone–used the post to launch campaigns for governor.

But a badly run treasurer’s office can have serious consequences. Inadequate controls during the Malone administration were blamed for a staggering $9 million theft from the Abandoned Property Division. Under both Malone and O’Brien, the state routinely underpaid payroll taxes for state employees, a $35 million blunder discovered by O’Brien 16 months after she took office. Thousands of lottery tickets were unaccounted for in the late 1990s, raising the possibility of theft and damaging the Lottery’s credibility.

The largest organization Tim Cahill ever managed was his Quincy restaurant business, which grew to three sites and 40 to 50 employees, many of them part-time. As Norfolk County treasurer, he had a staff of about a dozen people and managed a $400 million pension fund. He now is the steward of a pension fund more than 50 times larger, and he is taking over the financial controls at a time when the best minds on Wall Street cannot figure out how to make money.

Tim Cahill may have earned his way to an office in the State House. But now that he’s there, many are wondering, what kind of state treasurer will he be?

Hitting the lottery

When he assumed office in January, Cahill declared his top priority to be boosting the state’s sagging revenue. “Our first task is to help the governor and the Legislature resolve the fiscal crisis,” he told The Boston Globe.

At first, Cahill eyed the state’s $34 million in abandoned property as a source of new revenue. He considered changes allowing the state to tap more quickly into the money tied up in inactive bank accounts, unused safe deposit boxes, and uncashed checks. After two months in office, though, Cahill was sounding a more traditional theme: Come and get it. His picture soon appeared on one of the familiar newspaper inserts listing the owners of unclaimed assets.

But Cahill did succeed at increasing the frequency of the Lottery’s Keno games from every five minutes to every four. The faster pace should mean more action at the state’s “Keno parlors”–mainly convenience stores and smoke shops, as well as some bars and restaurants.

Cahill estimates the new games will add $35 million to the state’s coffers by the end of the next fiscal year, but some lawmakers were miffed that Cahill made the change without consulting the Legislature. He responded that he had the authority to make the change on his own and that he had talked with legislative leaders first. Nevertheless, he dispatched his Lottery director, former Braintree state representative Joseph Sullivan, to smooth lawmakers’ ruffled feathers.

Another gambling-related change, which Cahill advocated during his campaign, would be to lift the state’s 10-year ban on Lottery advertising. Former Senate president Thomas Birmingham pushed through the prohibition when he was chairman of Senate Ways and Means in 1993, but with Birmingham out of the Senate after his unsuccessful run for governor and the state hungry for cash, the prospects for resumption of Lottery ads would seem to be favorable.

In March, Cahill proposed a $25 million “Jackpot Awareness” program aimed at enticing “a more middle class type of player” to go after the Lottery’s biggest scores. The advertising would be funded by new “video lottery” houses expected to raise $150 million to $200 million.

Cahill has spent much of his time trying to make friends in state government. He held one-on-one meetings with treasury staffers, earning some good will and finding out how things really work in the office. He also reached out to Auditor Joseph DeNucci, who had been at odds with O’Brien for many years. At Cahill’s request, DeNucci agreed to bring his auditors into the treasury to examine the operations of several key departments.

While finding his way around Beacon Hill, Cahill has steered clear of hot-button issues such as pensions for felons and lax standards for legislators’ pensions. The only headlines he received this winter involved his decision to donate a kidney to his sister, Alicia Cahill Watts, 45, who is diabetic. (The odds for a successful kidney transplant greatly increase if the organ comes from a living donor.) Cahill, who lost his sister Paula to cancer last spring, readily agreed to the operation. He was notified last summer, in the middle of the primary campaign for treasurer, that the operation would be scheduled for early this year, but he kept the matter secret to protect his sister’s privacy. The surgery was conducted March 4 at Massachusetts General Hospital, and was a success, according to the doctors.

“We’re a close family. Most people, if given the opportunity, would do what I’m doing,” Cahill told the Patriot Ledger of Quincy a few days before the surgery. “We happen to be a match, and I’m healthy enough to do this. You have two kidneys, and you can live perfectly well with just one.”

Takedowns and reverses

It’s easy to see Cahill as the accidental treasurer, landing in office through a series of lucky breaks. His opponent in the November election was underfinanced and little known, as were his rivals in the Democratic primary. The state’s media outlets were fixated on the governor’s race and barely covered the contest for treasurer.

Into this void burst the catchy slogan “Tim for Treasurer,” coined by Cahill’s then-10-year-old daughter, Kendra. For many voters, “Tim for Treasurer” was the one thing they could remember about the treasurer’s race. The name Cahill, unlike Grabauskas, was easy to say. His address–a medium-sized, middle-class city in the densely populated eastern part of the state–was neutral geography for most voters. And it didn’t hurt that his county post allowed Cahill to put the title “treasurer” next to his name on the ballot.

But people who know Cahill–even those who thought he was suffering from delusions when he started talking about running for state treasurer a couple of years ago–say his election was no fluke. He began mapping out a plan long ago. He raised money early, and he made the rounds of Democratic ward and town committees before anyone else. He did get some breaks, but he was in a position to capitalize on them.

“These were not knee-jerk decisions he made,” says Quincy attorney Rick Smith, who first got to know Cahill when they were competitive wrestlers together in middle school. “He is very organized. The things he did were well thought out.”

Besides careful planning, running for statewide office requires ambition and determination. Smith believes Cahill forged those qualities in Quincy’s wrestling program.

“We had a coach then named Carmen Mariano,” Smith recalls. “He told us to shoot for the stars. If you only reach the sky, then you’ve achieved that much. Most of us just rolled our eyes. Timmy took it literally.”

Mariano, now an assistant superintendent of schools in Quincy, credits Cahill with reviving Quincy’s wrestling program. In 1940, Quincy High School’s wrestling team was the state champion. The program was suspended during World War II and did not resume until the 1970s, when Mariano arrived as coach and Cahill became team captain. Cahill led Quincy High to league and sectional championships, and he succeeded Mariano as coach.

Former wrestling coach Carmen Mariano
says Cahill was a natural.

“He was an excellent wrestler, but he was more than that,” says Mariano. “He was a team leader. He was a role model. He saw the program go from nothing to everything in six years.”

Mariano sees a parallel in his wrestling protégé’s political career. Cahill started out in politics with almost no money or organization. In his unsuccessful 1981 run for city council, Cahill had only friends and family working for him. Six years later, he had built a following and a grass-roots organization and was able to capture a citywide council seat. Then came the incremental step to county politics and the bigger leap to statewide office.

“Tim is an adventurer,” says longtime friend and campaign worker Michelle Lydon, whose father, John Lydon, served with Cahill on the Quincy City Council. “He’ll try different things. He will be doing something and then set off on something completely different. He re-invents himself.”

Cahill is the second oldest of nine children. His father was a maintenance man in an apartment building, and the family moved from Boston’s Hyde Park to Quincy when Tim was 2 years old. They lived in the Brewers Corner section of West Quincy, a lower-middle class neighborhood near the Southeast Expressway.

After graduating from Quincy High, Cahill went to Boston University. In his senior year, he did a three-month internship in the Washington office of US Rep. Brian Donnelly, a Boston Democrat, and he caught the political bug. “I wound up sitting around listening to the war stories of people in the office,” says Cahill.

Donnelly remembers Cahill as a hard worker with all the right political instincts. “He was born to politics,” Donnelly says. “He was very good at it. He still is.”

Strong coffee, hardball politics

Shortly after winning his City Council seat in 1987, Cahill turned his energies to business. He worked two jobs–he was a tour guide at the Adams National Historic Site in Quincy by day, a security guard by night–to save enough money to start a restaurant. He and two partners opened Handshakes, a small downtown eatery.

“We started the year before Starbucks did,” Cahill says. “I was not as successful as Starbucks, but it was the same idea.” The restaurant combined elements of Starbucks, Bruegger’s, Panera, and Cheers. The coffee was good, the bread and bagels fresh baked, the sandwiches made to order, and if everyone didn’t know your name, the proprietor at least knew how you liked your coffee.

Handshakes drew downtown office workers, including many who worked next door at the Patriot Ledger. As the business grew, Cahill and his partners opened a second stand-alone restaurant in neighboring Weymouth and a third in a Weymouth health club.

For an aspiring politician, behind the counter at Handshakes was a good place to be. Cahill met and mingled with people from City Hall and the newspaper and lots of ordinary folks. The connections helped him build a following for his political career. After winning his City Council seat, he was re-elected six times, five times as top vote getter.

But by the early 1990s, Quincy’s commercial district was on the decline. The Patriot Ledger, Cahill’s most reliable source of customers, moved to a building closer to the highways. In 1995, Cahill sold the restaurant, escaping with no debts and a little bit of cash. (Its new owners changed the name to Craig’s Corner, which is still in operation.)

His time as a small-businessman got Cahill interested in the topic of entrepreneurship. With the money he made from selling Handshakes, Cahill took time off, rented a small downtown office, and wrote Profiles in the American Dream, a businessman’s counterpart to John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage. The book, 143 pages long, is an admiring account of the careers of four Quincy entrepreneurs: restaurant-chain founder Howard Johnson, Dunkin’ Donuts maker William Rosenberg, building-materials retailer Louis Grossman, and Peter O’Connell, a developer who once employed Cahill’s father (and contributed to Cahill’s campaigns). Published by Christopher Publishing House in Hanover in 1994, the book sold about 1,200 copies, mostly in Quincy and Braintree bookstores. It did not help sales that the Grossman and O’Connell empires were crumbling at the time the book was published. (O’Connell has since rebounded by branching into real estate management.)

“I was hoping it would take off and do more, but I was proud of it,” says Cahill of the book. But for Cahill, writing was a sideline. Before long, he started a new business, a courier service that grew to 15 employees and five vehicles.

Cahill stayed away from voting blocs.

But it was on the Quincy City Council that Cahill really made his mark. While generally exhibiting a pro-business slant on tax and development issues, Cahill was known for his independent streak, and his council votes were hard to predict. In recent decades, Quincy has had a number of political machines, loosely centered on a succession of mayors and key state legislators. While Cahill maintained cordial relations with these established blocs, he never relied on them for support. His refusal to join any faction probably cost Cahill the council presidency; he sought the post twice but fell one vote short each time.

“If you are going to be president of the city council, you have got to make deals,” says former mayor James A. Sheets. “It was very difficult for Tim to do that. It’s not his way.”

Six-term Quincy Mayor James A. Sheets
blocked Cahill’s path to that office.

The most difficult episode in Cahill’s Quincy political career came in 1999, when Cambridge developer Dean Stratouly proposed a 1,600-unit housing complex, called Highpoint, in West Quincy. The project, the largest ever planned for the city, sparked fierce neighborhood opposition and equally strong support from trade unions and business interests. The issue split the city council, which by a one-vote margin rejected the special permit Stratouly needed. Construction trades unions were enraged by the action and saw a way to overturn the decision by targeting Cahill.

The South Shore Building Trades Council challenged Cahill on ethical grounds, claiming that he should have abstained from voting on Highpoint because his parents and in-laws live near the development site. Cahill insisted he did nothing wrong since he had nothing to gain personally from his vote. The union lodged a complaint with the state Ethics Commission, then upped the ante by filing a criminal complaint in district court.

After a magistrate found sufficient cause for the case to go forward, an assistant district attorney was brought in from Plymouth County to prosecute Cahill. After many anxious months and $9,000 in legal bills, the Ethics Commission found no violation in the Cahill’s vote. The prosecutor also decided to drop the case.

Cahill says the affair was troubling because “I was accused of being dishonest.” He says he has no regrets about the way he handled it. “[The ethics challenge] was an attempt to intimidate me and my colleagues.”

Stratouly eventually scaled back the plans to 1,040 units, which the council did approve, with Cahill as the lone dissenter. Cahill argued that the project was still too big, worrying that it would overshadow the rest of the neighborhood and clog surrounding streets with increased traffic. Construction began last year, and the first of 10 buildings planned for the site, a former landfill, is scheduled to open in 2004.

Despite some hard feelings on both sides, Cahill tried to keep lines of communication open with organized labor. In the Democratic primary for state treasurer, Stephen Murphy of Boston was labor’s preferred candidate, but Cahill picked up endorsements from local unions in Quincy and Norfolk County. After the primary, organized labor flocked to Cahill’s candidacy against Republican Grabauskas.

From treasurer to treasurer

Long before the Highpoint controversy, Cahill openly talked of running for mayor of Quincy, but Sheets seemed unbeatable throughout the 1990s. (The six-term mayor was finally defeated in 2001 by school committee member William J. Phelan.) In contrast, the post of Norfolk County treasurer presented Cahill with a path of less resistance, though seemingly less glory as well.

In Norfolk, as elsewhere, county offices are places where politicians go to escape from competitive politics. The higher-profile district attorney’s job can be a launching pad for higher office, but county treasurer is not usually a steppingstone to anywhere. Still, that kind of county post pays well, has low visibility, and, barring crisis or scandal, once obtained is nearly impossible to lose. But in 1996, the incumbent Norfolk County treasurer was vulnerable. Republican Robert D. Hall of Needham had been swept into office in the GOP surge of 1990, but once the Republican tide receded Hall became a sitting duck for the popular Quincy Democrat.

Despite his lack of financial experience, Cahill, by most estimates, did a credible job as county treasurer. He took office at a time when county government was under siege in Massachusetts. Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester counties had collapsed financially, and there was strong sentiment on Beacon Hill to abolish counties altogether. Seven counties were eliminated in the 1990s.

Norfolk County was mired in financial difficulties as well. Cahill was part of a team, led by the three-member county commission, that pulled the county out of the fiscal swamp. A money-losing hospital was sold, and Cahill restructured the county’s debt.

“I felt like I was back in the restaurant business,” says Cahill. “I was trying to keep people happy but not paying them.”

In managing the county’s pension fund, Cahill adopted an unusual approach. Rather than relying on a few trusted investment advisers, he threw open his doors, listening to everyone. “I took cold calls,” says Cahill. “I had interviews with everyone who wanted to do business with the county.”

And at a time when state money managers were hitching a ride on the soaring stock market, Cahill relied more on his own discretion. Wanting to have more control over the county’s pension funds, he pulled half the money out of the state Pension Reserves Investment Trust and put it in more stable, but less lucrative, investments, which he managed directly. As a result, the Norfolk County pension fund ranked near the bottom of retirement funds in the state during the bull market of the late 1990s. In the last three years, however, the fund has been near the top.

While handling Norfolk County’s finances, Cahill realized that another treasurer post might be opening up. Once US Rep. Joseph Kennedy opted out of the governor’s race, it became clear that state Treasurer Shannon O’Brien would jump in. When she did, Cahill geared up to take her place. Although the “Tim for Treasurer” slogan got all the credit, Cahill also got a lot of mileage out of the line that he was “the only treasurer running for treasurer,” which he repeated like a mantra in debates and interviews during the campaign. The truth of that claim showed up in some unexpected ways. Though Cahill raised money for his campaign from his established network of family, friends, and contacts in Quincy and elsewhere in Norfolk County, he also tapped people who did business with his Norfolk County office, including lawyers, brokers, and members of investment firms. A Boston Globe analysis of his campaign funds uncovered $120,000 in contributions from money managers.

Cahill says he’s no Bob Crane (left), but he was faster than Joe Malone or
Shannon O’Brien to tap campaign funds from money managers.

Though it may be unseemly, it is not unusual for elected officials to raise money from people they’ve gotten to know through official business. Former state treasurers O’Brien and Malone both tapped the same kinds of sources Cahill did in their bids for re-election or higher office. But a candidate usually has to get elected to an office before the interests that curry favor with that office start filling the campaign coffers. As county treasurer, though, Cahill already had financial supporters in the investment field. (Cahill has staunchly maintained that campaign contributions will have no effect on his decisions as treasurer.) One important fundraiser for Cahill was Thomas F. Kelly III, a West Quincy neighbor of Cahill’s. Kelly was once an assistant to former state treasurer Robert Q. Crane, who retired in 1991 after 27 years as treasurer. He is now a consultant who represents fund managers. Kelly’s presence in Cahill’s campaign sparked questions of whether Cahill’s election represented a return to the Crane years, when cronyism was rampant. Cahill denies it.

“Tom is just one of many people who have been helpful to me,” says Cahill. “He’s a friend and more importantly a neighbor.”

Another prominent contributor was John J. Gallahue, who resigned as head of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Retirement Board in 2001 following reports he had loaned money to a convicted arsonist. Gallahue gave $500 to Cahill, but also to Murphy, another Democratic contender.

All together, Cahill raised $1.1 million for the campaign, more than any of his opponents in the primary or final election. He spent nearly 90 percent of the money on television advertising and most of that to air one ad. The “Tim for Treasurer” spot, produced by Cahill’s consultant, Doug Rubin of Viewpoint Strategies, may forever hold a place in Massachusetts political lore. It featured a youthful, attractive candidate, surrounded by his even more youthful, attractive daughters. The ad was a feel-good moment in a dreary campaign season dominated by harshly negative advertising.

It also counteracted opinion among the political and media elite that Cahill might not be the best man for the job. In the primary campaign, James Segel–a former Brookline state representative who in the 1980s served on a panel that helped create the state-and-local pension system used today –raked in the endorsements from newspapers and public officials alike. One Segel endorsement that particularly stung Cahill was that of US Rep. William Delahunt. The Democratic congressman from Quincy backed Segel over his hometown’s favorite son because of a longstanding relationship with Segel, who served with Delahunt in the Legislature in the 1970s. And in the general election, many of the state’s major newspapers, including both the Globe and the Herald, threw their support to Republican Grabauskas, a seasoned public manager (and now secretary of transportation in the Romney administration) who earned acclaim for turning around the benighted Registry of Motor Vehicles. But the gray beards and gray editorial pages were apparently no match for “Tim for Treasurer.”

Minding the store

As in the electoral campaign, Cahill’s first weeks as treasurer have been overshadowed by the governor’s. While Gov. Romney has had every move scrutinized, Treasurer Cahill has been putting together his team, and his game plan, in relative peace and quiet. Taking over from a Democratic colleague, Cahill did not order a wholesale house cleaning in any of the departments or agencies he controls. “I have high expectations for Tim,” says former treasurer O’Brien.

The treasury administration he’s put together is a mix of new hires, O’Brien holdovers, and at least one returnee from the days of Bob Crane. The new treasurer named political consultant Rubin as his top deputy and hired Sharma, Rubin’s assistant at the two-person Viewpoint Strategies, as his communications director. When Cahill underwent transplant surgery in March, Rubin served as acting treasurer.

In defense of his choice of deputy, Cahill cites Rubin’s master’s degree in public administration and academic training in economics. But Rubin has no first-hand experience in public finance or investments, and even in Cahill’s eyes, his deputy’s strength is his political savvy. “He brings an inside-outside skill to the treasurer’s office,” Cahill explains.

Cahill also tapped Braintree state Rep. Joseph Sullivan, a fellow Norfolk County Democrat, to be director of the state Lottery. Sullivan, a former insurance agency executive, has no experience running any business or bureaucracy as large as the lottery. But Cahill knows he can count on Sullivan to protect the Lottery’s interests should the Legislature move to expand legalized gaming to ease the state’s fiscal crisis.

“He knows how this building works,” says Cahill.

Cahill kept on four key officials from O’Brien’s administration. They are debt management chief Jeff Stearns, cash management director Beth Pearce, information technology services head Peter Navarro, and administration and finance chief Brian Turnbull. At the Abandoned Property Division, Cahill installed Mark Cavanagh, who worked for former Treasurer Crane. After leaving that post, Cavanagh worked in the unclaimed assets field in the private sector. For the past six years, he was a vice president at ACS Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse, a Boston firm and the largest reporter of unclaimed property in the United States.

During the campaign, comments about his Norfolk years gave rise to concerns that Cahill might exercise a “hands-on” approach to investing the state’s pension money that would undermine the fiduciary independence that has characterized pension-fund management in recent years, but so far he appears to be following the lead of his predecessors in leaving such matters to financial experts. Cahill replaced one member of the six-person investment advisory board, but kept in place the others, some of whom have held their posts since the Malone administration.

Still, O’Brien says Cahill will have to learn his way around Beacon Hill. A former state senator, O’Brien says she knew whom to talk to when she needed help from the Legislature, and lawmakers and their staffs knew and trusted her.

Others observers see his lack of Beacon Hill connections as an advantage for Cahill. “He came to the office without the help of the heavy hitters,” says former Quincy Mayor Sheets. “He doesn’t have to give them anything.”

Meet the Author
One thing Cahill does know is not to fall into the Malone trap of being so distracted that you wouldn’t notice people walking out of the office carrying bags of cash.

“I learned it in the restaurant business,” says Cahill. “If you are not around, people will steal from you.”