Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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Official's kin had no-work state job

Official's kin had no-work state job
Transportation secretary's sister got $60,000 Legislature post in August
The Boston Globe, 3/17/09
By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff

Her title was chief of staff, but she had no staff and reported to no one. That did not prevent Carol Aloisi from collecting a $60,000 State House salary for six months, until a state representative found her - literally - sitting in his new office and put her to work.

Aloisi, the sister of state Transportation Secretary James Aloisi Jr., was assigned in August by House leaders to the onetime office of former state representative Rachel Kaprielian months after Kaprielian had vacated her post to head up the state Registry of Motor Vehicles.

When aides to Representative Garrett Bradley of Hingham, named as Kaprielian's successor as floor leader this year, arrived to take over the office two weeks ago, they were baffled to find her there.

"Nobody sits in my office unless they're doing work," said Bradley, who has started doling out assignments to Carol Aloisi that include analyzing which communities in his South Shore district qualify for federal stimulus funds.

Aloisi declined to comment yesterday and said she was told to refer questions to the office of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. Her brother, who was appointed to lead the state's transportation agencies by Gov ernor Deval Patrick in December, also declined to be interviewed.

DeLeo spokesman Seth Gitell refused to discuss Aloisi's responsibilities before DeLeo took over as speaker, calling it "the purview of the former speaker," Salvatore F. DiMasi, who resigned in January but was in charge when his office reassigned Aloisi to Kaprielian's office in August. DiMasi could not be reached for comment.

Gitell also would not say whether Aloisi's political and family ties had anything to do with the treatment she has received to date.

"The speaker's office is conducting a review of assignments and duties," said Gitell in response to the question.

Barney Keller, spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party, said Aloisi's work history "shows there is still waste in state government and we should not raise taxes. Secretary Aloisi may disagree, but perhaps reform before revenue should apply to the Legislature as well."

Secretary Aloisi has been a vocal advocate for the governor's plan to raise the gas tax by 19 cents a gallon.

For her part, Kaprielian had no idea a staffer had been reporting to her in absentia."I quit the Legislature last May and had no authority to make any personnel decisions," she said in a written statement. "I wasn't aware that anyone had been assigned to my old office."

The 49-year-old Aloisi was assigned by DiMasi's office to work for Springfield Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera in 2005, first overseeing the staff of the Joint Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security and later the Joint Committee on Children & Families. But her work was marked by absences and health problems, beginning with a back injury that kept her out several months, Coakley-Rivera said.

The injury came weeks after Coakley-Rivera raised questions about the accuracy of Aloisi's time records with House personnel officials, a state official said.

The relationship between Aloisi and Coakley-Rivera soured further after Aloisi, a Democratic state committeewoman, served as a delegate to two Democratic Party conventions - one in Lowell, and the presidential nominating convention in Denver - while she was unable to work because of her back problem.

Also last summer, Aloisi was among the State House aides who got a 3 percent pay raise, according to state payroll records.

Coakley-Rivera, who went without a chief of staff for months until DiMasi assigned her a new one in late January, said she was "extremely disappointed" in Aloisi's performance during her last year.

"In my opinion, she took advantage of not only her chief of staff position, but her political connections," she said."

There are people at the State House who work really hard and care about their jobs and the people they work for," she said, citing as an example her receptionist, who shows up "religiously every day" and then puts in a full shift at a hotel "to make ends meet."

"But there is another percentage who pretty much do nothing for a good portion of their workday and make very good salaries with benefits," said Coakley-Rivera, who now chairs the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development. "That's why we need reform. We have to start cutting waste."

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