Howie Carr: Dear John: Skip daddy’s advice
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But Boston City Councilor John Connolly better hope that old saw is wrong, because if he follows in the daffy footsteps of his hack father, he doesn’t have a prayer of unseating Mayor Mumbles Menino.
Actually, he already doesn’t have a prayer, unless Boston’s mayor for life suddenly decides to pull a Pope Benedict XVI, which seems less likely with each passing day, and each passing campaign-finance report.
Bad enough that John Connolly has the same name as the most corrupt FBI agent in history, but wherever he goes he reminds people of his dear old dad, the one-time statewide officeholder unaffectionately known as “the Secretary of Space.”
Let me put it another way: If you liked Flats Flaherty and his scheming family of Southie tinkers, you’ll love the Connolly clan.
A call was placed to Don’t-Call-Me-Zip’s flack Friday afternoon. The question was: Is Poppa Mike serving as a campaign adviser to the chip off the old block?
“I’ll get right back to you,” the flack said.
When the phone didn’t ring, I knew it was her. But you can’t argue with the strategy. Keep the crazy uncle (or in this case dad) locked up in the attic.
Mike Connolly was the secretary of state from 1978 to 1994. He retired in 1995 at age 46 and for the past 18 years has since been collecting a state pension of $29,320 a year.
There are countless stories about Mike’s nutty behavior, but one will suffice. In 1982, junkie actor John Belushi died of a drug overdose in Hollywood. Mike Connolly wanted to lower the flag at the State House to half staff.
Anyway, Mike’s sister is named Paula. She’s married to a former Boston city councilor named Jimmy Connolly, which makes her Paula Connolly Connolly. In the early 1990s, Jimmy Connolly fell in with then-Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci. He raised money, big money, for his new Republican pal.
Pretty soon Jimmy’s sister-in-law, Mike’s wife, Lynda, was appointed to a judgeship by Gov. Bill Weld, just before he turned over the Corner Office to Jimmy Connolly’s patron Cellucci. Another nationwide search.
On Friday, Lynda retired from the bench at age 65 as the $135,124-a-year chief justice of the district court. If young John’s mom takes her full state pension, she’ll be grabbing $101,343 a year; should she decide to leave survivor’s benefits to Mike, it’s a mere $90,418.
When the city councilor says we can’t afford to keep paying these huge salaries, he knows whereof he speaks. He makes $87,500 a year from the city, by the way.
That’s in addition to his private law practice, which until recently included a partner who left after being appointed to a judgeship by Gov. Deval Patrick. Did somebody say nationwide search?
Retiring at age 46, Mike needed a job, as opposed to work. A year after Lynda Connolly wedged her snout into the public trough, Jimmy Connolly’s patron Gov. Cellucci appointed Mike Connolly to a six-year term on the Boston Licensing Board.
Pay: $75,000 a year, in addition of course to the pension he was already grabbing. Plus he got an office and a parking space at City Hall.
Under Republican governors, Mike kept his “job” for 12 years. But in 2011, Mike Connolly filed for unemployment. He hadn’t been fired, he just hadn’t been reappointed to another term. But he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to separate $500 more or so a week from the taxpayers. It’s the Connolly M.O.
Mike is also a movie producer. He made a film initially titled “The Gentleman from Boston,” then later changed to “Beacon Hill.” I was brought into the film late to tie up a few loose ends in the plot by delivering a short monologue as a radio talk-show host. Call me a deus ex machina. At the end of my explanatory screed, Mike cut to a scene of the corrupt Speaker in a car yelling at his driver, “Turn that bleep off!”
Funny, I found myself saying the exact same thing to the TV last week whenever I heard John Connolly talking about “reform” and “cleaning house” at City Hall.