Amherst hacks top state payroll, usual suspects low on list

Gov. Charlie “Tall Deval” Baker makes $151,799.96 a year.

That makes the state’s CEO merely the 2669th highest paid person on the state payroll.

If you’ve been wondering why the hacks on Beacon Hill are whining that collecting $100 million a day in taxes isn’t nearly enough, you have to check out the entire 2017 Massachusetts state payroll, which was posted online last week by the state comptroller.

It’s party time in state government. Let the good times roll, especially at UMass. Almost all the state’s top “earners” are now interred in academia. The State Police are likewise doing fabulously, but at least they’re out on the road every day, and they could run into problems, and you might be happy to see a trooper some cold winter night when your car breaks down on the Pike.

But UMass? C’mon. At least now we know why they call Amherst “Happy Valley.” What’s not to be happy about, when the starting salaries seem to be hovering around $150,000?

Presiding over this academic hackerama is the former Congressman, Marty “Midas” Meehan. Midas Meehan checks in at number five on the top earners’ list at $614,381.57 a year. The quartet ahead of him are likewise UMass “employees.”

Let’s talk about the UMass basketball team. Until last March, the Redmen were coached by one Derek Kellogg, local boy made, if not good, at least rich. He was fired after a 15-18 season but still finished last year seventh in total pay, $585,955.94. The new coach is Matthew McCall, and he’s at number 27, making $381,577.22 in 2017.

The hoop squad’s record so far this season is a glittering 10-8.

How about UMass football? They went 4-8 last fall, and Coach Mark Whipple made $492,654.

All of which reminds me of what Bill Veeck, the legendary baseball executive, used to say of the sports world: “It’s not the high cost of talent that’s ruining the game, it’s the high cost of mediocrity.”

And that goes double – make that triple – for Midas Meehan’s UMass.

I checked out the list expecting to find it chockful of familiar payroll patriots who’ve been slurping at the public trough forever, and yes, they’re there.

Jim Julian, a second-generation Billy Bulger hack who’s survived multiple UMass presidents since, is at number 29 — $377,883.01 as “executive vice president.” And there’s Ed Lambert, former DCR hack and ex-Fall River mayor at $191,028.11 – he’s the “vice chancellor governmental relations & public affairs.” Lambert is number 835.

But to reach the motherlode of usual hack suspects – the district-court judges, the clerks, the commissioners, legislators etc. – you have to scroll through more than 1300 names of people you have never heard of, all of whom have very important sounding titles that include endless combinations of three or four of the following words – associate deputy dean assistant provost vice senior chancellor executive chief director chairman….

One rule of thumb about these academic honorifics: the more diminutives, the higher the pay.

Remember that obscene 60 percent pay hikes the legislators handed themselves a year ago? Even after taking all the heat to set himself up for life, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the unindicted coconspirator, still finds himself unable to rise above number 2336 — $157,499.58.

How about the Mass. Gambling, I mean Gaming Commission? They have a UMass-like pay scale. Edward Behosian makes $185,000 as executive director and the “ombudsman” John Ziemba is at $137,815.51. But my favorite is Steve Crosby, number 2128 at $161,522.12 – this guy is a coat holder’s coat holder. I remember when he was holding Mayor Kevin White’s coat in Ward 20 back in the 70’s, and he has held so many more coats, cloaks and capes since then.

I mean, when you open the dictionary to “Forgotten But Not Gone,” you will see Steve Crosby’s mugshot. And he doesn’t even “work” at UMass!

Back in the day, when gangster Whitey Bulger was stuffing envelopes full of cash for the Yuletide season, he used to look up with a demonic smile and say, “Christmas is for cops and kids.”

Now Whitey would have to say, “Christmas is for cops and kids — and UMass.”

And for UMass, every day is Christmas. And the taxpayers – we’re their Santa Claus.

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