Rep. Brian Dempsey may be the first casualty of the obscene 40 percent pay raises the Legislature handed itself earlier this year.
It has become apparent that, now that everyone in the geriatric legislative leadership are all making close to $170,000 a year, none of them have any intention of ever going anywhere.
Good move getting rid of the term limits on the Speakership, Mr. Chairman Dempsey!
Why should House Speaker Bob DeLeo, age 67, retire, when for all practical purposes he already is, at full pay? The State House is his retirement home, his Marion Manor; ditto his majority leader, Ron Mariano, age 70. The Senate president, Stanley Rosenberg, turns 68 a few months before DeLeo. His majority leader, Harriette Chandler, will be 80 five days before Christmas.
It’s the over-the-hill gang. Billy Bulger used to joke about how things change in politics over the years. When you start out as a wet-behind-the-ears kid, your slogan is, “Give a young man a chance.” After you’ve been in awhile, your mantra becomes, “There is no substitute for experience.”
Or, in this case, though, there is no substitute for getting in your three highest-paid years to max out the pension.
In the old days, Dempsey, who is 50, might have organized an uprising of sorts amongst his fellow young whippersnappers (relatively speaking anyway) looking to overthrow the dead hand of the wrinkly leadership. That’s what Charlie Flaherty did to Tommy McGee way back when.
But where was Dempsey going to recruit the firebrands for the next insurrection? They’re almost all making $100,000-plus. Where else are they ever going to make that kind of dough?
Dempsey threw in the towel on National French Fry Day – somewhat ironic, because for most of his fellow solons on Beacon Hill, if they didn’t have these six-figure sinecures at the public trough, they would likely be asking at lunch today, “Would you like to supersize those fries, sir?”
Another irony: Dempsey is going to work for ML Strategies, which is a subsidiary of Mintz Levin law firm. When Speaker DeLeo was in his photo finish with the grand jury in the probation-department scandal, he turned to… Mintz Levin. Paid them about a half-million dollars out of his campaign account. And for that $500 large, he was named… an unindicted coconspirator.
Which certainly beat the alternative. Just ask Sal DiMasi. Or Tom Finneran. Or Charlie Flaherty.
Is it possible that without the services of Mintz Levin, DeLeo might now be in federal custody, and Dempsey might be holding the gavel? So perhaps Dempsey regards his new gig as a kind of consolation prize from Mintz Levin. That whole law firm/consultancy is a revolving door for the hackerama. In one way or another, Mintz Levin has served as a holding pen for, among others, Bill Weld, Frank Bellotti, ex-Sen. Steve Baddour, the brothers of Ed Markey, John Kerry and Peter Blute, as well as the former head of Massport Steve Tocco and a former North End city councilor….
Dempsey is of, at most, average intelligence. But for over half his life, he’s been at the State House, where a little goes a long way. In the kingdom of the blind, as the old saying goes, the one-eyed man shall lead. Demspsey got his BA at age 32, from UMass Lowell. He’s been arrested for DWI, he once spent a night in PC after a drunken Mother’s Day brawl with his brother.
In short, his credentials as a career hack are impeccable. In pre-pay raise times, Dempsey would have been a shoo-in to become speaker, and after that, who knows. Someday he too might have written a half-million in checks to Mintz Levin to stay out of the slammer.
But now he’s going to be, ahem, working for them, as a, double-ahem, lobbyist.
And DeLeo has to find a new chairman of Ways and Means. There is no deep end in this talent pool, that’s for sure. I repeat, it’s the legislature. My only advice to him would be, don’t give the power of the purse to anybody who ever worked for anyone who went to the penitentiary, or who held a liquor license. Mistah Speakah, wasn’t one near-death experience enough?