Statement of Speaker DeLeo Regarding Probation

Speaker DeLeo has stepped forward with a strong commitment to respond to the problems in the probation department.

It is clear that the speaker has read the report and that he reacts with the appropriate anger, and intention to take action.

Notably, he states: “I pledge the full cooperation of the House of Representatives in providing the necessary information required to ensure this abuse of the public trust never again occurs.” The report focused on the probation department, but suggested problems in the legislature itself. The statement acknowledges this and pledges cooperation with necessary further investigations.

This statement is big step in the right direction. Click here to read today’s Statement of Robert A. DeLeo.

In a separate follow-on statement reported in the State House News, the speaker addressed the future of Representative Petrolati, stating that “After considerable thought and discussion with Representative Petrolati, we have mutually agreed it would be in the best interests of the House of Representatives that he not seek re-appointment to the post of Speaker Pro Tempore when the House reconvenes in January”.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

4 replies on “Statement of Speaker DeLeo Regarding Probation”

  1. Will-Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I am thankful I live in a country where the free exchange of ideas is possible. Thanks to you for creating a forum to do so.
    Re: DeLeo’s statements. Sorry to be a wet blanket on this but…DeLeo is simply reacting to the publication of these practices. Given his length of service and access you don’t expect me to believe he didn’t know this was going on do you? It’s hard for me to get too worked up about someone using their personnel relationships to get a job. Afterall, this is human nature. Getting a job after contributing money to a politician’s campaign fund is a little different. I would suggest this “custom” is prevalent in MA government because for years our elected officials (mostly Democrats) have been fostering a “chicken in every pot” political enviroment. It’s not something for nothing-it’s I’ll give you “free stuff” or a job and you in turn will give me you’re vote and/or political donation. It’s taken our current economic downturn for most of the country to recognize this tradition is unsustainable and is ruining this country. I can only pray that MA citizens wake up to the same realization.

    1. Yes, it is true that referring people for jobs happens in every environment — private and public — and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it: The positive words are mentoring and networking.

      Where it becomes wrong is when referrals not are based on merit and fit but rather on quid-pro-quos and power. That isn’t always a line that’s easily drawn, but in probation it’s clear that the line was crossed. I don’t think many people inside or outside probation knew the extent to which Jack O’Brien was breaking the rules — the existence of some patronage in probation was reasonably well known, but the facts of the report are nonetheless shocking even for most long-time people around Beacon Hill.

      I’m pretty sure that the speaker had no idea at all of the falsification of records going on in probation and was genuinely shocked when he read the report. I think he gets credit for moving to change it. Relieving Petrolati — who, whatever his sins may be, is a very personable and well-liked member of the House — was a big and personally difficult step.

      Let’s see how far we can get in this change process. I agree the issues go beyond probation and beyond one individual. Real change will impact a lot of long-standing relationships. This is just a good beginning.

  2. Will- What do you think about the idea written by Scott Leigh in todays Globe op-ed? That the legislature and the judiciary are currently exempt from the state’s Public Records Law and that should be stopped. What would it take?

    1. I agree with the need for more tranparency in legislative operations and made it a focus in 2010, with some results.

      I agree we need to go further. There are some further rule changes I’ll be working for to increase transparency around both financial transactions and job referrals. I’m not 100% sure that all the details of Open Meeting Law and Public Records laws fit the legislature (a very large body), but I agree we should be moving a long way in that direction. It may in fact, make sense to simply remove the exemption in the public records law (G.L. Chapter 66, Section 18) for the General Court.

      Regarding the Judicial branch, I’m less clear about the way the records rules work there and what should be changed. Many records of the judicial branch are, in fact, public. On the other hands, many court records shouldn’t be public — court cases often raise a number of safety and confidentiality issues. There is already a whole elaborate body of law within the courts for determining what is public and what isn’t.

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