Probation guy guilty

The Globe has the basics on the convictions of John O'Brien and two underlings. At Mass. Lawyers Weekly, Harvey Silverglate and Daniel Schneider question whether US Attorney Carmen Ortiz went too far:

[T]he notion that an unelected federal prosecutor can do the job of reforming state politics by twisting vague federal statutes to mean what they say they mean surely would be puzzling and dangerous in the eyes of the Constitution’s drafters.



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    When The Voters Throw The Rascals Out ...

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    … another set of rascals just takes their place. No political party has a monopoly on corruption. Demand elected officials pass laws preventing shenanigans? Yeah, right. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

    I'm not the biggest fan of Ms. Ortiz, but it's nice to see the sense of entitlement that permeates Beacon Hill; that notion that public service jobs may be doled out to well-connected, politically-patronizing individuals, rather than the most qualified; taken down a notch or two.

    It would help if politicians

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    It would help if politicians didn't run unopposed. Right now without challengers they have little to no incentive to even pretend to not be corrupt and care about their constituents. If they had to campaign at least for that period every so often they'd have to pay attention to the people and keep their nose clean,

    Which is another good reason to abolish

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    this archane system of requiring voters to choose a party affiliation to cast a ballot in primary elections.

    Put ALL eligible candidates, regardless of party affiliation, on a SINGLE primary ballot.


    ... terrible idea.

    An illustrration of the potential unfairness....

    5 people run form party A, getting 15 percent a piece (total of 65%). Two run from part B, getting 18 and 17 percent (35 percent). Party B gets both slots for the final ballot -- despit getting half the primary votes.

    So, you still take the top person

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    from Party A, and the top person from Party B, etc. for the final election. As far as the primary itself, there is no legitimate reason whatsoever to force the voter to affliate themselves with Party A, Party B, or other, to exercise their Constitutional right to cast a ballot. All requiring party affiliation does is to unreasonably limit a voter's choices, and make additional unnecesary work for the polling people.

    Contrary position:

    If a private, nongovernmental organization like the Sierra Club, or the AFL-CIO, or the Malden Chamber of Commerce decides to endorse a political candidate, they make the decision, internally, using their own procedures, and on their own nickel.

    Why do we, the taxpayers, foot the bill for a private, nongovernmental organization like the Democratic Party or the Republican party to canvass its members and decide which candidate it is going to endorse in the general election?

    On the ballot, next to a candidate's name, we don't list whether or not the candidate has the endorsement of private, nongovernmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, etc. Why, then, do we make a special exception for private nongovernmental organizations like the political parties, and show on the ballot next to the candidates' names the parties' endorsements?

    Don't vote for Democrats

    Seems to be the message. Independent, Republican, Libertarian, just not Democrat. Who can say they would be as bad here in Mass state government without even giving them a try?

    You Need Only Look At States Like Florida ...

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    ... to see that Republicans can be as corrupt as anyone, and are often much worse. So, it boils down to voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Unfortunately, voting for a third party candidate that doesn't have a serious chance of winning is essentially throwing your vote away. I've always regretted voting for John Anderson.

    Last i looked

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    were all living and voting in Mass! FL is the __________ of America!

    It boils down to having a choice

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    When the 2 party system gets broken, it is easier for corruption to spread. Look at it this way- the Democratic Party controlled the U.S. House from the 1950s until the 1990s. What brought them down? They were tarred as being corrupt (check cashing scandal as a prime example) and out of touch with the voters. Of course, nowadays districts are rigged so that very few are actually competitive.

    The majority of the members of the General Court have essentially been "reelected", before the ballots have been printed. Most of the rest will win in September and November. Yes, the Mass GOP is weak, but it is our fault of the system stagnates. In states where politics is actually competitive, politicians have to be on their toes.

    Oh, and speaking as a Democrat, Democrats are by and large more corrupt. And it is my little slice of the pie (urban Irish) that drives it. This is not to say that there are not corrupt Republicans. It's just happens that Dems get the corrupt ones.

    The GOP is deeply corrupt as well

    Almost by definition, as it is unapologetically the party of the wealthy, fully bought and paid for by the rich and big business. That's why there's no real alternative.

    Charlie Baker & the current chair are knee deep in it.

    Highly influential behind-the-scenes party power player amassed close to $1 million

    Shennanigans at the Mass GOP Convention

    Republican candidate for governor Mark Fisher charges state GOP officials offered him $1 million to drop out

    GOP candidate demands answers from Charlie Baker, party on dispute

    "party of the wealthy"?

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    "party of the wealthy"? Please, you mean to tell me all those billionaires and millionaires attending various fundraisers for this administration is just an optical illusion? Some of this administration cabinet appointees are certainly pay back for bundling and other fundraising activities, that's the gist of the problem and not one party is holier than the other.

    Until we admit both parties listen to the money before listening to us, we're going no where.

    Party of the Buffoons

    Scott Brown did a serious disservice to the statewide credibility of the party when he forgot that he was a Senator and became a pawn.

    I happily supported Weld - even canvassed for his first campaign. But look how the GOP nationally drummed him out because he *gasp* represented Massachusetts and not the national GOP.

    The problem with the local GOP is that when they get any more major attention, they get threatened by the national buffoons to toe the line or get primaried or lose all support for their reelection. People won't elect them - even when you have a decent rep like Tisei running against a rep who is either a crook or an idiot - because we all know what will happen when they get to DC.

    You kind of changed the

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    You kind of changed the subject, do you disagree money is equally too big of an issue for both parties?

    How many fundraisers has the President been to the past 10 days, especially with everything going on. He's expected to by the party and it's a shame.

    I disagree, at least locally

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    There aren't enough elected Republicans to be corrupt. Now, down South, a lot of the corrupt Democrats have become Republicans, but up here we have perhaps Joe Malone who, like Edwin Edwards, was never convicted of anything.

    Everything else you say is partisan. Don't get me wrong, they're the reasons I'm still a Democrat, but I do wish we had a strong second party keeping things honest. Other states do, in spite of ideological bent. Sometimes I think the local GOP shoots itself in the foot, then I remember that Tisei couldn't beat Tierney, and I scratch my head.

    Don't buy it

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    Name one GOP politician convicted, tried, or even indicted between 1990 and 2006 in Massachusetts.

    Remember, I was the one who cited the whole Treasury Dept. kerfuffle, but the elected official didn't even go in front of a Grand Jury on that one. Blute went down for inappropriate behavior (thanks to the Herald for reminding me of that) but nothing even close to criminal.

    It's not that Democrats are by nature corrupt. It's just that Republicans in Massachusetts have had little chance to be corrupt.

    My parents always voted D, as

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    My parents always voted D, as most of their generation did. I remember my first time voting in a Presidential election - 1980 (?), my older brother brought me to vote and when we got home, mom asked how it went. Excitingly I told her I voted for Reagan.
    She nearly hit the floor. "We don't vote that way in this house!".

    Fast forward 30 years. Never missing a chance to vote, her last two chances to vote (now in her 90's) were very upsetting to her as she found the democratic party was not the party for her any longer. She followed politics and was "with it" up until the end.

    It bothered her that she could not bring herself to vote for a democrat, but she admitted to me she just couldn't do it.

    I'll bet she went with a write in or Independent candidate, I only know it wasn't the dem.

    That generation is JFK

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    That generation is JFK Democrat and I think we can agree JFK probably wouldn't make it past the primaries now a days.

    Both sides have changed dramatically and will continue to do so. It's what they do.

    In my opinion, JFK was not as

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    In my opinion, JFK was not as progressive as the dem party of MA today would've liked him to be.

    But, I refuse to get into a political debate on a beautiful Friday afternoon!
    These are my experiences and opinions, that is all.

    There were Republican

    There were Republican legislators and office holders involved in the Probation Dept hiring practices. You cannot say this was solely a Democratic Party issue.

    Dems held the power

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    Hence, O'Brien felt the need to help them out more, to in turn boost his power.

    The GOP accounts for what, 10% of the General Court. Even if they are more corrupt, their numbers and position in the pecking order means less numbers and less favors.

    Long overdue

    The boldness of arguing that undeniably corrupt processes were just acceptable "business as usual" for Massachusetts was impressive (I guess), but I am glad it didn't work. Now someone needs to start investigating the gambling casino funny business. (Looking at you you once again, Speaker De Leo).

    Not done yet.....

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    So when are they going after the pols that put those people on the lists? They are just as guilty as those already charged.

    I just get a kick out of them

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    I just get a kick out of them scurrying like cockroaches from the media yesterday.

    It's quite entertaining to watch these pols try to act as though they are completely oblivious to anything.

    They need to be humbled every now and then.

    Feels fake

    Too many "Unindicted co-conspirators" to feel as though any real justice has been done. Just another instance of selective prosecution, fighting darkness with darkness.

    I think everyone is missing what this was actualyl about

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    It is not a crime to hire someone who has been referred to you for a job. These people were found guilty of fraudulently cooking the evaluations of the people they hired to make it appear as if the people met the state's hiring criteria. I agree with that outcome, as this appears to have gone well beyond the mere hiring of people who had been referred to the agency by politicians.

    Sham evaluations, fake scoring...

    ... independent raters being threatened or pressured. NOT acceptle patrongage practices. This may be (or -- hopefully -- may have BEEN) business as usual for Massachusetts bigwigs (connected wioth both parties) for a long time -- but it is corrupt and illegal, The fact that other folks -- perhaps equally have not been nailed (yet) -- is neither here nor there. Not an Ortiz fan in general -- but she and her crew did just fine this time. Now -- maybe one or more of those just convicted will decide to start singing -- and we could see a bunch more prosecutions, this time of politicians.

    If the legislature....

    ... created a system that expressly allowed patronage hiring, without regard to merit or qualification, then presumably hiring based solely on clout and connections would indeed be legal. But, perhaps, the legislature might face a bit of public opposition if it passed such a system.

    So currently, merit-based hiring is mandated

    By state law? This seems to conflict with the probation judge's insistence that "patronage itself is not illegal".
    All of which is to say that although merit-based hiring should be mandatory, I am pretty sure it is not. Perhaps a legislative fix is in order, though we probably need new legislators first.

    If two candidates are both fullty qualified...

    .. with no funny business going on -- and one has a patron and the other doesn't, it is probably legal to give a preference to the one with a patron.

    The evidence in this case shows that O'Brien and team phonied up the evaluations/assessments to make a number of patron-sponsored candidates who were _not_ fully qualified (or were totally non-competitive with much more qulified candidates) in order to create a paper record that made it look like the candidates with patrons were worthy of consideration and selection.

    This is where the fraud came in, not simply in the giving of preference of one legitimate candidate over nother.

    Her friends senators Kerry

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    Her friends senators Kerry and Kennedy made some calls for her. I won't hold my breath for the indictment. I agree with Dan F above, this is selective prosecution and does little to address the larger issue. I also share Harvey Silverglate's concerns expressed in his article about bringing all the resources of the federal government to bear against these functionaries by stretching federal statutes (which were developed to prosecute the mafia and drug kingpins) to their breaking point. I understand the concern, but the remedy in this case is far too severe, IMO

    Well, thank God

    that we have a strong state Attorney General, who has been instrumental in uncovering and rooting out this corruption.

    oops... never mind, it was the Feds.

    Yes, Yes, Yes

    The AG has been horrible at her job. Every major corruption case she tries (which is few) she fails. The fact she couldn't put the weightlifting disabled fireman behind bars was the last straw for me. It's not like it would be hard to find instances of corruption.

    Commissioner O'Brien's conviction on "racketeering"

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    Having worked for the Commonwealth, and learned about the quid pro quo of keeping one's job, I find this trial to be the persecution of a State employee for doing what his superiors directed him to do. The idea that Commissioner O'Brien had any choice in the matter is to stretch incredulity.

    It is the Mass. Legislature that holds the purse strings; And, those strings are like tentacles reaching out and imprisoning those employees who happen to be in a position that a legislator can leverage for his (or her) benefit. Had Commissioner O'Brien had the temerity to refuse or even question a hire referral by a legislator, his budget would have been decimated by the next scheduled quarterly distribution through the Comptroller's Office; within a month his position would have been eliminated and a new Probation dept. entity enacted. Perhaps that is what the prosecutor finds fault with: That Commissioner O'Brien was not eager to quit his job and leave, having learned about quid pro quo.

    That is the reality of politics on Beacon Hill, and this zealous federal prosecutor may have garnered a victory to round out his resumé, but he has not eliminated the corrupted root cause of the way politics works, not only in Massachusetts, but everywhere.


    "I was just following orders"

    Eff him. And eff everyone else who "goes along to get along." Grow a pair, and tell your boss to stuff it if he wants you to be a criminal.


    O'Brien was no passive, innocent "victim" here.

    Besides you have to start cleaning up corruption somewhere. Or do you suggest keeping on doing nothing at all -- because you can't clean up everything at once?

    Our political system

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    is essentially set up (Democrat vs Republican, with occasional independents) so any government, regardless of which party is in power, isn't too far left or far right; they are basically forced to be centralist, regardless of promises they make during elections. This basically mean changing the status quo is very difficult and slow, sometimes next to impossible.


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    Do you know anyone in public or private employment who was hired or promoted without a recommendation from another person. No one gets there on their own.


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    My point ,stupid,is that what has been an accepted way of life by everybody,has now become a crime AND THAT AIN'T RIGHTP