Two fast facts you need to know about the new president of the state Senate, Harriette Chandler.
Number one, she has a big birthday coming up two weeks from today – she’s turning 80. What a thoughtful birthday gift – the state Senate! (ital.) Is this gavel for me? (end ital.)
Number two, she used to drive the long way to “work” at the State House every day from Worcester, so she could claim she lived more than 50 miles from Beacon Hill. That way she could grab $20,000 a year for traveling expenses, rather than the $15,000 she’d have received if she took the more direct 49-mile route.
I guess she needs that extra five grand for her golden years. Her current take-home pay is listed as more than $157,000 a year. And don’t forget – living more than 50 miles from the State House means she also gets to write off tens of thousands a year in federal income tax.
(Her spokesman late yesterday said that she has now “downsized to an apartment on Salisbury Street in Worcester that is a further distance from her old home.” Whew, that’s a load off all our minds.)
Anyway, in addition to her $60,000 “stipend” as majority leader, and her base pay of $62,547.97, and her $20,000 travel allowance, she also grabs another $15,000 as chairman of the Redistricting Committee, which doesn’t have any official duties until after the next census… in 2020, when she’ll be 83 years old.
“I’m sure I will put in $15,000 worth of work,” she told her hometown newspaper earlier this year.
Even though she is now the acting president of the state Senate, her flack says she won’t be taking the presidential “stipend.”
In spite of her decades in the hackerama, Harriette Chandler is not exactly a household name, even in her hometown of Worcester. In fact, this was the first posting on the message board beneath the Telegram’s story about her ascension yesterday:
“I thought she was dead. How old is she?”
To give you a little background, Harriette Chandler went to Wellesley College. She graduated in 1959 – that’s 10 years before Hillary Clinton. Obviously, she was handed the gavel Monday because no one else has yet lined up enough votes to grab it permanently.
Until now, she was the majority leader, which by State House tradition goes to the solon whom the Senate president considers least likely to stage a coup. Consider the list of recent majority leaders – Boverini, Bertonnazi, Tom Norton, Linda Melconian etc. Zero overlap with the State House Mensa caucus. Think of the Senate majority leader’s office as a sort of sheltered workshop.
Harriette Chandler won’t make waves. She also won’t make the All-Star team. Judging by her campaign contributions, her all-time favorite local politician is former Lt. Gov. Tim “Crash” Murray, another dodgy dim bulb from Worcester ($1475), followed by Marsha Coakley ($725).
What becomes now of Stanley “Sugar Daddy” Rosenberg, the scandal-plagued deposed president? Just last week he was publicly conniving to kill the referendum question to reduce the state sales tax – how Bulgeresque he was behaving.
But that was then, and this is now. Dethroned, will Rosenberg now wander the State House halls like Banquo’s ghost, only of course he won’t be haunting Macbeth, but all the Lady Macbeths plotting to replace him – Karen Spilka, Linda Dorcena Forry, maybe Eileen Donoghue.
Rosenberg can’t return, of course. He had his chance to repent, the first time his boy toy ran amok. But instead of cutting his losses, Rosenberg told the band to strike up “Here Comes the Bride.” Say goodnight, Stan. And now his $60,000 stipend is gone too. Sic semper tyrannis, as they say in Virginia.
So presiding over the Senate for the next few months will be the birthday girl, Harriette Chandler, ably assisted by her majority whip, Sen. Cynthia Creem, 75 years young.
By the way, her spokesman says Chandler has “no plans” for a big birthday bash two weeks from today. Please, Harriette, reconsider. This is a perfect opportunity to invite the Ancient & Honorables up to the State House to fete you. They are the perfect group to host your upcoming gala, the Ancient & Honorables, especially the Ancients among them.