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Governor’s Council operates in different fashion

Date: 8/14/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

I’m a guy who is willing to have an open mind. Political conspiracy? Tell me about it. Bigfoot? I want to see the pictures. UFOs? Where’s the footage?

Now I might not agree with your theories or conclusions, but I’m willing to listen to all sorts of odd, outlandish and unbelievable stuff.

That’s why I had our reporter Chris Maza explain twice to me why Governor’s Council member Michael Albano is joining in a lawsuit against Gov. Deval Patrick. Chris also explained twice to me just what the lawsuit is all about.

I would have thought it would be more likely to see Sasquatch chowing down on my buddy City Jake’s delicious fries than for a member of a governmental body changing a vote she cast three weeks after the meeting in question and expecting the governor to go along with it.

How can a body such as the Governor’s Council operate in such a fashion? Do you mean to tell me the select boards of the smallest communities in the Commonwealth have more rules than the Governor’s Council, which is responsible for affirming appointments to the bench?

Here’s the story in brief: Patrick nominated Michael McCarthy last fall to the position of associate justice of the Southern Berkshire District Court. On Sept. 26, 2012, the Governor’s Council voted three against, three votes for and one abstention for the nomination. On Oct. 17, 2012 former Councilor Mary Ellen Manning wrote Patrick a letter changing her vote.

Patrick re-nominated McCarthy on Jan. 3 and on Feb. 13 the Council failed in a vote to approve him. He received three “yes” votes and five “no” votes

Now there is a lawsuit against the governor on behalf of McCarthy. Really? The councilors who support McCarthy say he was confirmed by the vote on Sept. 26, 2012 because the councilor in question changed her vote.

In all the years I’ve sat on some hard bench in some room in a city hall witnessing a bunch of people govern a community I’ve never seen one time in which a councilor, alderman or select board member come in three weeks after a vote to say, “I’ve changed my mind,” and magically, a decision was flipped.

Can you imagine a local government run by such “rules”?

“Transparency” is the most overused word in politics. If I had a $1 for every time that’s been said in my presence I could take early retirement from this rat race. Here is one instance in which some “transparency” would have been welcomed, though.

What kind of body is the Governor’s Council, anyway, that at least some of the members believe these kinds of maneuvers was acceptable?

Perhaps it would be better if judicial appointments – and the other business of the Council – were taken on by the Legislature.

The Villamaino sentence

There is often a sadness brought about when a young person is facing a judge. When that person has betrayed the trust of his or her family or a community to the extent he or she is in court.

I feel a loss for the potential squandered when a person makes a decision that could haunt him or her for the rest of their lives.

And yet, I feel little compassion – undoubtedly my own failing – for someone like former East Longmeadow Selectman Jack Villamaino who committed a crime against his town for the most petty of reasons – winning a primary election for a seat in the Legislature.

I can only hope that what ever he does after his four months in jail and his time on probation, he will have actually learned something and will make an attempt to do something to help someone.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.