Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Deval's "Trivial" Pursuit

Why Can't Patrick Aides Admit They Set Walsh's Salary?
Repeated denials show an administration against reform, transparency

Patrick's Communications Director Joe Landolfi says the "final decision" to set Sen. Walsh's salary came from HEFA Chairman Allen Larson: Walsh said Tuesday that the board had decided on the salary level. The Boston Globe over the weekend published reports that Patrick administration officials had worked behind the scenes to engineer the Walsh appointment, including proposing her salary level. Patrick communications director Joe Landolfi said Tuesday, "The final decision relative to the salary was made by, as far as I know, Chairman [Allen] Larson." (State House News Service, 4/1/09)

More Landolfi: A series of e-mails published over the weekend between the governor's staff and HEFA board members revealed that HEFA Chairman Allen Larson asked the administration to justify the $175,000 salary after a Burlington-based consulting firm, The Survey Group, reported the average pay for her position to be closer to $128,500. Both Patrick and Walsh insisted yesterday that HEFA set the salary. Joe Landolfi, the governor's communications director, said Patrick's office participated in the discussions, but did not make the final decision on whether to offer Walsh the job or the generous $175,000 salary. (Lowell Sun, 4/1/09)

But the Boston Globe reported that "the salary level of $175,000 originiated with the administration": Contradicting a series of steadfast denials, internal e-mails show that Governor Deval Patrick's top aides controlled the appointment of state Senator Marian Walsh to a high-paying job at a state authority, from setting her salary to crafting her job description.They also provided the agency's talking points for the news media in an attempt to quell a public uproar...The salary level of $175,000 originated with the administration, the e-mails indicate. They also show that Rubin drafted Walsh's job description. Patrick's press office wrote the script for public statements by the agency. On the weekend before the Patrick-controlled HEFA board unanimously approved Walsh's appointment as assistant director, Larson asked Gonzalez to justify why the Democratic lawmaker should be paid more than $128,500. That was the amount that a Burlington-based consulting firm, The Survey Group, reported as the average market base pay for the position. Larson asked Gonzalez to contact Rubin for backup information that would support a $175,000 salary. "Generally, it's lower than the $175,000 figure," Larson wrote to Gonzalez, referring to the consultant's survey of pay at other government agencies. "It would be helpful if Doug or others could send along some comparables so that we have substantive justifications." (Boston Globe, 3/28/09)