Big bucks pensions Boston’s (costly) legacy

The late baseball executive Bill Veeck once said that it wasn’t the high cost of talent that was ruining the game, it was the high cost of mediocrity.

Kinda like the list of payroll patriots collecting six-figure pensions from the City of Boston.

Consider Ex-BPD Commissioner Dennis A. White, retired three years ago, is now collecting $170,232.24 a year.

Granted, he spent years on the payroll as a cop, but his top job was BPD commissioner.

He held the august position from Feb. 1, 2021 until Feb. 3, 2021. And then the… allegations began. After 48 hours on the job, he was placed on leave and then fired in May and… death, where is thy sting?

As you know by now, the top pension-grabber in the city is ex-BPD Sgt. Winifred Cotter, at $197,098.08 a year.

She’s the cousin of former Mayor Marty Walsh – another nationwide search.

Cotter was Cousin Marty’s driver, which is traditionally the best way for a cop to ride into the sunset with a big fat kiss in the mail. Stevie Whitman was a BPD driver for Mumbles Menino. He’s now grabbing $148,795.68 a year.

Most of the top pension-collectors on the city list were either police or firefighters. Consider the Hasson brothers. Jim Hasson is number four, retired BPD, for $192,108.60 a year. His brother John was on the Fire Department. He’s scraping by on $149,496.72 a year.

Donna Gavin retired from the BPD in May 2022, and now collects $138,153.24 a year. But wait – there’s more. Just before she retired, she won a $2 million judgment in federal court against the city for gender discrimination.

Just because you retire with an incredible six-figure pension doesn’t mean that you stop, uh, working. Take plus-sized Ed Davis – please. Yet another former police commissioner, now grabbing $134,485 a year, plus he’s got a bloviating gig on one of the local TV stations. He also his own security company, where he employs one Joe Lawless, a former state cop who used to be a driver for… ex-Gov. Bill Weld.

The old Boston Edison used to employ ex-FBI agents to run their security, at least until they were indicted in organized-crime cases for Mob hits.

The Boston Red Sox prefer ex-Boston cops. Their chief of security used to be Charlie Cellucci, with children still on the job. He retired from the BPD in 2004 and has been collecting $135,134.04 a year. Then he went to work for the Bosox until 2019, when he was succeeded by Colm Lydon, another former Boston cop who since 2019 has been pocketing $164,579.04 a year.

How good do you think the Boston public schools are? Again, Bill Veeck’s words come to mind.

Former superintendent John P. McDonough is grabbing $187,065.84 a year. Another former BPS superintendent, Michael Contompasis, is making $146,592.36.

Pensions in the public sector might be described as a relative thing. So many people are… related to other people.

Randy Lamattina is an ex-Boston cop who was wounded in a bomb explosion in 1985. Totally legit, and since 1986 he’s been getting a kiss that now amounts to $131,145.96 a year.

His father was better known as Ralphie “Chong” Lamattina, a made Mafia guy who went on the lam to Italy for years after his racketeering indictment in the 1980s. Ditto, his uncle, Joe “Black” Lamattina, who was also a Mafia lamster from way back.

No knock on Randy Lamattina, it’s just a fact. Same thing with like AG Andrea Campbell, whose father and uncle were stone cold hoodlums from Roxbury who were affiliated with the Winter Hill Gang back in the day.

Remember City Councilor Jim Byrne? He’s been gone from City Hall a long time. His brother Charlie has been gone from the BPD almost as long, since 2005, and he’s still pocketing $154,835.16 a month.

Mike Ruggere was in the BFD’s choir, and now he’s not singing the blues. He makes $158,637.24 a year in his retirement.

It’s not just how big the kisses in the mail from the city are, it’s how long they go on. They say old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Ditto for City Hall hacks.

Remember the $1 townhouse in the North End? The city sold it to Teddy Anzalone, Mayor Kevin White’s chief money man, who later beat a federal indictment, and Teddy’s wife, Joie Prevost Anzalone.

I was at City Hall when The New York Times ran a front-page story about the city selling that townhouse in a desirable neighborhood to two of the mayor’s top hacks for a buck. It was our day for an interview and White was boiling mad.

“You know they get the Times delivered in the Kremlin!” he started yelling, waving the paper around. “What the hell must the Russians be thinking, that the Times is putting this kind of bleep on the front page?”

That must have been, like, 1981. The Soviet Union went out of business in 1989. Kevin White died in 2012. Teddy Anzalone died last February, at age 98.

Joie Prevost Anzalone, though, started collecting her kiss in the mail when White left office, in 1984. Forty years later, she’s still getting $2,523,10 a month.

Forty years! And she’s still got her real estate office on Hanover Street.

And Joie isn’t even the longest-collecting pensioner of the City of Boston, not by a long shot.

According to the documents the city turned over, a party named Joseph F. Vogel retired on March 31, 1956.He is still collecting $1,340.82 a month.

Sixty-eight years! That’s what the City Hall documents say – I have no idea who this guy might be. But if he’s a real guy, still alive, and he’s been on the dole this long, he may have known, among others, Jim “I’ll Take a Buck” Coffey, Julius Ansell, and maybe even James Michael Curley himself.

Living well may be the best revenge. But getting a kiss in the mail for 68 years is even better.

Join Howie's Mailing List!

You have successfully subscribed!