Speaker Wars Side-Story: The Aging Dean

Here's a little off-shoot of this week's unfolding DiMasi/DeLeo/Rogers soap opera. After DiMasi officially resigns tomorrow (1:00 pm), and until the house votes DeLeo as the next Speaker Wednesday, someone has to be in charge. That's the House Dean -- the representative whose service dates back the furthest -- Rep. David L. Flynn of Bridgewater. This is one of his few Deanly duties; he also officially gets sworn in as Speaker at the start of each two-year legislative session, to calll the vote to officially elect a Speaker.

Flynn, who is 75, has been laid up for a month with what his office describes as a digestive ailment complicated by his diabetes. He has not been into the statehouse all month. And his doctors have advised him to continue to rest and recuperate for another couple of weeks.

If Flynn can't be there, the next in line for Dean gets sworn in instead, as temporary Speaker. In fact, that's exactly what happened three weeks ago, at the start of this session, when DiMasi was re-elected Speaker.

Problem: that next-in-line is local legend Angelo Scaccia of Readville. Scaccia is a John Rogers guy. Scaccia is almost certain to lose his cherished position as chair of the House Rules Committee if DeLeo becomes Speaker.

Scaccia, in short, might be very amenable to Rogers's recent calls for the Speaker vote to be delayed, to provide more time for consideration, or for a third-candidate alternative to emerge.

As one representative mused to me this morning, nobody really knows what would happen if Scaccia gets sworn in as "temporary" Speaker, and then uses procedural tactics to avoid calling for a vote.

So, forget the doctor's orders -- DeLeo needs to haul David Flynn from Bridgewater to Beacon Hill, in his jammies if need be.

A spokesperson for David Flynn assures me that the aililng representative will make it to Boston to be sworn in by Governor Patrick at 5:00 Tuesday afternoon, and that he will return to the building Wednesday morning to strike the gavel and call for the Speaker vote at 11:00.

It would be in bad taste for me to suggest that Bob DeLeo will, if necessary, carry Flynn into the chamber like a "Weekend at Bernie's" scene. That would be in bad taste, so I won't suggest that.

As a side note to this side story, I have been told in the past that Scaccia thinks it's totally bogus that Flynn is House Dean instead of him anyway. Flynn has served two separate terms: 1965- '72, and 1999-present. The 1965 date is all that counts -- even though Flynn's total time served is teensy compared to Scaccia -- who was first elected in 1973, and has been in office all but two years since then.

Oh, and one more thing: Wednesday's session might very well get scrapped anyway because of the snow.

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