DeLeo Pops The Patronage Bubble

It would be easy to jab at Bob DeLeo for his blatantly political 180 on patronage, but I'm with Lehigh on this one -- the Speaker deserves credit for taking the lead on the issue.

I have previously compared this to people who take hazing for granted, suddenly realizing that it's no longer publicly acceptable. It may be too much to expect those types to actually see that what they've been doing is wrong, but regardless, they need to step up and stop it from happening anymore. It seems to me that's what DeLeo's doing.I also think that he's on the right track, with a two-part approach. He's saying that something specific needs to be implemented at probation, but in addition there should be a "put-it-in-writing rule," as Lehigh dubs it, to ensure that recommendations for all state hires become public record. That's a big step, it seems to me, for the head of a body that has stubbornly insisted that its own records must be excluded from public-records laws and audits (and, at times, subpoenas).I don't know what the details should be for either part of that solution, but I'd suggest that the written-recommendation requirement should be as broad as possible. It gets at the potential abuse of power that inherently underlies the relationship between public officials and those who depend on those officials for funding and other interests. As far as I'm concerned, I'd like to see pretty much anything that looks like favor-asking in that relationship put on paper and subject to public-record request -- sunlight, sunlight, sunlight.And, while I recognize the specific importance of hiring and promotion decisions regarding state employees (who are paid with the taxpayer's dime), the potential abuse-of-power relationship goes well beyond that scope. What about the quasi-public agencies? The recipients of direct earmarks? Other state funding recipients? Those who benefit from state tax-break incentives? Those with state contracts, or who are bidding on state contracts? Companies and non-profits lobbying the state, or belonging to associations that lobby the state? Aren't they all benefactors or potential benefactors of public officials -- and couldn't any of them see a job or promotion recommendation as an unspoken quid pro quo? And is it really just the elected legislators we should be concerned with? What about their top staff? What about the judges and administration officials, some of whom show up on those now-infamous probation lists?

Perhaps the answer is to require any public official who is currently required to submit financial disclosures -- suggesting legitimate public concern about their potential conflicts of interest -- to provide written copies of all employment-related recommedations (and maybe add other types of recommendations or requests) they make to any entity that receives state funding, with those documents to become public record after, say, six months. Yes, that seems awfully broad, far-reaching, and annoying, but I don't think it's all really all that onerous.

There's another type of recommendation I'd like to see put into the public record: senate president Therese Murray's recommendations for what Speaker DeLeo can do with his anti-patronage legislation. I suspect those have not been put into written memo form, but they would surely make terrific, colorful reading if they were.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Talking Politics Archives