So here we go yet again. Another Speaker of the Massachusetts House imminently and ignominiously likely to exit. Has the media used the “embattled” term yet to describe Sal DiMasi? Stay tuned.
Benighted, indicted, convicted. Tommy Finneran, Charlie Flaherty, Tommy McGee, Johnny Thompson. But let’s try to be positive here. Who were the good Speakers of the last 50 years? I tried to make three, but Robert Quinn served only a year before moving to Attorney General. So here’s two.
David Bartley was Speaker from 1969 to 1975. A sort of Rahm Emmanuel of his day, he shook things up. He sided with the lifers in opposing a reduced the size of the House, THE major issue of the time, and had a mixed-positive bag of legislative accomplishments. Perhaps daunted by the fact that the last Speaker to become governor was Republican Frank Allen in 1928, Bartley escaped into the state college system as president of Holyoke Community College. It was a clean getaway.
It’s hard not to like George Keverian, Speaker from 1985 to 1991. Keverian encouraged the diverse Massachusetts House Democrats to make deals and alliances, which he helped craft into wining coalitions. Yes, it was frequently messy. He wore the mantle of the big guy from Everett authentically. None of the Billy Bulger posturing or the Tommy McGee bully here. Keverian was looked down upon by the Dukakis policy wonks, but this is a badge of honor rather than a failing. They named a school in Everett after him. That won’t happen to his successors.
The pathology of the Massachusetts speakership is a serious issue. What to do? Rotating terms? Short term limits? Secret ballot election? More Keverian types? I know, a part of the problem is one-party rule. But that’s not the whole answer. The last Republican Speaker, Charlie Gibbons, was indicted along with his successor, the aforementioned John Thompson. Some bipartisanship that was.
And look what the future holds. John Rogers? Already on the slippery slope of scandal. Bob DeLeo? Accomplishments?…give me a few minutes, I’ll think of something. Dark horse David “slots”Flynn? OMG. I’m so not looking forward to this.