Is there anyone left at either City Hall or the State House that has ever had a real job?
I don’t mean as “director of civic engagement” or in the Office of Possibilities. I’m talking about doing something useful, producing goods or services that real people need or want?
Is there anyone in the public sector anymore who was ever paid minimum wage to make sandwiches at a sub shop, or was responsible for getting shipments out in a timely fashion? Did any of the diversity coordinators or inclusion advocates or sustainability consultants ever make deliveries, drive an Uber or work the swing shift on an assembly line?
Every week there’s more crazy news about the complete disconnect between local government and … work.
Today it’s Henry Santana, candidate for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council.
He was the “director of civic engagement,” whatever that means, for Mayor Michelle Wu. Guess what – at age 27, he’s never voted. Not once.
Of course, he has an excuse. See, Henry was born in the Dominican Republic, which has already given Boston such exemplary leaders as city councilor Julia Mejia, and the mother of the even more wonderful city councilor Kendra Lara.
He’s a U.S. citizen now, Santana says, but for most of his life he lacked “proper documentation.”
“The paperwork was lost,” he says. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
But his prior lack of “proper documentation” didn’t stop him from pocketing $86,918.80 on his phony-baloney job last year.
Now, the Boston City Council has always been full of unemployable layabouts. But once upon a time, it was expected that even if a candidate couldn’t hold down a job, he could hold a sign – or at the very least vote!
No longer. As long as check the right boxes, you’re a-okay. It’s identity politics, but guess what. Nobody identifies as a member of the working class.
Here’s another change in how the hackerama operates. It used to be, if you wanted to get early retirement in a no-heavy-lifting hack job, you had to win an election or two, or at least come close.
That formerly ironclad rule of politics is out the window now too – at least for those in the protected classes. Just ask Stephanie Everett, of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency (OPAT), which is basically yet another hack holding pen for City Hall.
Everett has run for public office three times – for the City Council, for state rep, and for Suffolk County Register of Deeds.
Her record is a gaudy 0-3.
But Michelle Wu pulled her off the hack waiver wire and handed her very important new job – for $140,865.50 a year.
And she just keeps failing upward. Recently, the Suffolk County Register of Probate decided to retire. His name: Felix Arroyo Sr., and he put his all into it, for so long, as you can deduce from his nickname – No Show.
No Show Arroyo.
And now Gov. Maura Healey has conducted a nationwide search to fill No Show Arroyo’s no-show job. And the winner is, drum roll please, Stephanie Everett.
So she goes from her current City Hall salary to $174,532 a year on the state.
Imagine how much Stephanie might be making if she’d ever in fact won an election. In the old days, you might get a pay raise if you lost an election, but first you had to win one before you got the consolation prize.
(The good news is that Everett grabbing the register’s job means it won’t go to one of No Show’s dodgy sons – No Show Jr. or Ricky Ricardo Arroyo.)
Another rule was that although featherbedding, goldbricking and no-show jobs were the norm in so-called “public service,” there were always a few people who could perform an agency’s required duties.
No longer. Consider last week’s story about the state Department of Transportation setting up a new “Office of Possibility.”
It’s supposed to “bring experimentation” and “different ideas” to, among other disasters, the MBTA and the state highway systems.
How about instead of an Office of Possibility the Healey administration sets up an “Office of Making the Trains Run on Time,” and an “Office of Making Sure the Third Rail Doesn’t Catch Fire.”
On Route 3 last Friday, the DOT mowing crews were cutting the grass – on the southbound side, tying up Cape-bound weekend traffic to a fare-thee-well.
On Monday morning, heading back to Boston, traffic was totally snarled northbound on Route 3 – because they’d decided to cut the lawns on the northbound side at that moment, in the face of the week’s heaviest traffic.
And don’t even get me started about the Sumner Tunnel.
As comically inept as politics here used to be around here, it wasn’t quite the Bizarro World it is now. I can remember when one powerful member of the Legislature was challenged by a guy who was suspected of being an illegal immigrant.
He was knocked off the ballot, or forced aside. Now, being an illegal has become a resume enhancer. Candidates used to brag about their blue-collar roots. In Southie, if you’d once had to “shape up” as a longshoreman at dawn, it meant votes.
So did having “Veteran” on your yard signs.
Now, some are proud of having been illegal immigrants, I mean, having lacked “proper documentation.” (I’m looking at you, Tania Fernandes Anderson.)
Back in the 1980s, there was an elected member of the Boston School Committee who showed up at the Parkman House accompanied by a strange person. She was asked who her uninvited guest was.
“My food taster,” she explained. It was part of her Third World cultural heritage, I suppose.
Soon, the elected School Committee was no more. Probably a wise decision.
By the way, the new hacks at the state DOT’s Office of Possibility will be making $160,000 and $138,633, respectively.
Maura Healey poached her two payroll patriots from Michelle Wu. At City Hall they worked in the Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM).
I guarantee you that in the Office of New Urban Mechanics, there are no mechanics. There’s no one there who even can change a flat tire would be my guess.
Meet the new hackerama, same as the old hackerama.