Once you go hack, you never go back

The hack du jour is Mark Lawton.

Who’s that? you ask, as well you might. Lawton is 70 years old, hasn’t been on a ballot since 1982, and since 2010 he’s been grabbing the state kiss in the mail – currently $90,780.36 a year.

But that’s not enough, apparently, so now he’s running for mayor of Brockton, which would pay him another $148,165 a year.

Only one problem: he hasn’t lived in Brockton in maybe 25 years. The former state rep and judge has been a resident of Bridgewater for, well, “several years,” as he put it yesterday.

Actually, Lawton moved himself and his family out of the City of Champions about a quarter-century ago.

Here’s the short story: Lawton was tight with the Brockton mayor, Bill Carpenter. But Carpenter suddenly died last month, at age 62. So Lawton decided that, what the heck, the job needs the man and the man needs a job. He went apartment-hunting.

“I’m renting an apartment at 526 Forest Avenue, $750 a month.”

A year’s lease? I asked.

“No, month to month.”

How convenient. So if he’s eliminated in the preliminary election Sept. 17, Lawton can flee back to the bosky dells of Bridgewater. I asked him when he signed the lease.

“On the day of Billy’s funeral.”

Now, many ambitious political families in Massachusetts have long dreamed of becoming the next Kennedy clan – among them, the Markeys, the Timilitys, the Iannellas, the Tobins, even the Joyces in Milton, before that unpleasantness of the 100-plus-count indictment and all that followed.

These hack families are known as K-Mart Kennedys. In Brockton, the premier K-Mart Kennedys are the Creedons, of whom there are too many to list (not to mention, provide salaries and pensions for).

The Lawtons don’t quite rise to the level of K-Mart Kennedys. They’re more like K-Mart Creedons. Mark’s daddy was a state rep and judge before him. In the legislature, Lawton was best known as the driver for then-Rep. (and future senator and judge) Mike Creedon 40 years ago.

See, the state had just banned drinking while driving, and Creedon liked to sip a beer or two on the way home, so Lawton got the assignment of driving him. It paid off – Lawton was one of lame-duck Gov. Ed King’s final judicial appointments after his primary defeat in 1982.

Lawton was assigned to the Boston Juvenile Court, where he worked with the clerk, Whitey Bulger’s younger brother, a future felon named Jackie Bulger.

“I called him John,” Lawton was saying the other day.

Mark Lawton retired from the bench shortly after the probation department scandal erupted in 2010. You see, his son, a third-generation hack named Pat, had gotten a job as a p.o. after the traditional nationwide search.

Pat Lawton had gone to law school, but after flunking the bar exam three times, it was clear he needed a change of scenery, not to mention a good detox program. He was a junkie, as he later admitted at the trial of his former Probation bosses.

Lawton called various State House hacks on behalf of his son to, as he testified, “tilt the scale.”
An interview for Pat was arranged in front of a judge and a probation hack, both of whom owed their jobs to either Mark Lawton or his hack father James Lawton.

One of the hiring hacks later testified about young Lawton’s job interview: “I noticed he was shaking and perspiring heavily… trembling.”

You’re hired, Pat!

Shortly after reinserting his snout in the public trough, young Lawton was arrested in the driveway of an alleged heroin dealer in Taunton. He was asked at the probation trial in federal court what drugs he had been on.

“Marijuana, alcohol, heroin.”

His father, the would-be mayor, told the court he thought his son had everything “under control.”

Luckily for Pat, after yet a third nationwide search, he was then hired by the City of Brockton as a “sanitary inspector” for $66,854.56 a year, a job he retains despite a mysterious midday traffic accident in a parking lot a few years back.

Mark Lawton says he’s not running for mayor to keep his son on the city payroll. When I asked him if he’d considered giving up his state pension if he wins the mayoralty, he said, “I suppose I could. I hadn’t thought about it until you asked.”

Once you go hack, you never go back.

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