State Police Scandal is Rocking Baker’s Boat
Gov. Charlie Baker is lucky he has a friend in Democrat House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Otherwise an aggressive, partisan speaker would be hauling Baker administration officials before legislative committees to answer for the sudden breakdown of the Baker administration.
Between the latest shutdown of the MBTA’s Red Line, and the growing scandal among high-ranking officers of the Massachusetts State Police, there is a lot to talk about.
Hearings before legislative committees like the Transportation Committee or the Committee on Public Safety would force public officials to tell the public what is going on. They certainly would provide more information that you are currently getting from the Baker administration.
Of course, such hearings should be carried out by the House. The Senate is too tied up with its own investigation into former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg to be much help.
Charlie Baker should be warned. There is something in government and in life that doesn’t like second terms. Baker, a Republican who is also an honorary Democrat, is running for his second four-year term.
A second term is usually when an administration begins to crumble, like it did to the second term administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.
It happens to governors, too, as it did with the troubled second consecutive terms of Massachusetts Governors Michael Dukakis and Deval Patrick.
Baker is still in his first term, of course, so the second Term jinx would not ordinarily apply.
However, at the rate things are headed for Baker, he may not have to wait around for a second term -- which he is favored to get -- to see things crumble.
Things are falling apart right now.
His problems not only include the periodic disasters at the MBTA, like the shutdown of the Red Line last week which inconvenienced and angered thousands -- but the growing scandal among State Police officials as well.
Ordinarily you can blame your run-of-the-mill MBTA shutdowns and disasters on winter weather. But the temperature last Wednesday when the Red Line broke down due to a derailment was 70 degrees.
Baker blamed the system, which is old and neglected, but he promised improvements, like new Red Line and Orange Line (which also broke down Saturday) cars.
He failed to mention that in between those breakdowns, was the WCVB-TV (Channel 5) story about the $100,000 spent for a private bathroom in the MBTA/MassDOT board room in the Transportation Building.
There are existing clean, well-lighted public bathrooms 40 feet from the boardroom, but transportation officials are apparently reluctant to mingle with the public which not only pays them but paid for their bathroom as well.
The situation with the State Police is worse. Unlike the MBTA, what is happening at the State Police is surrounded by a code of silence.
Last Friday two more high-ranking State Police officials suddenly retired, which brings to four the number of top cops who have been forced out over the controversy surrounding the drunken-driving arrest of a judge’s daughter.
The latest to retire are Lt. Col. Daniel Risteen, the third in command, and Major Susan Anderson, head of the Holden barracks. Risteen is also involved in a separate controversy with State Police Trooper Leigha Genduso, who has been suspended.
In November, Superintendent Richard McKeon and his deputy, Francis Hughes, both retired suddenly.
All four are linked to the decision last fall ordering two state troopers -- Ryan Sceviour and Ali Ryan -- to remove embarrassing information about heroin and sexual acts, as well as references to her father, from the drunken-driving arrest report of Alli Bibaud, the daughter of Worcester County Court Judge Timothy Bibaud.
Both Sceviour and Ryan were reprimanded and are suing, although Col. Kerry Gilpin, the new head of the State Police, has ordered the reprimands removed.
One issue is who alerted McKeon that the daughter of a judge -- who McKeone had worked with in the office of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early -- had been arrested?
Also, why would such a common arrest involve four high-ranking State Police officials -- all now retired -- and an attempt to scrub the arrest report to present a milder version to a judge?
Who in the chain of command senior to McKeon made the initial call?
The ongoing scandal has hurt Baker. These are his cops.
It is good that former Essex County District Attorney Kevin Burke and Attorney General Maura Healey are investigating.
But cops investigating cops leaves a lot to be desired.
This, the MBTA and other developments, is why the Massachusetts Legislature -- namely the House -- needs to get involved. The public deserves answers.
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