Patrick: Probation Dept. Is Isolated Problem

By Adam Reilly

Dec. 1, 2010

BOSTON — The scandal that’s engulfed the Massachusetts Probation Department is already the talk of Beacon Hill – and with investigations underway by Attorney General Martha Coakley and US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the story is only going to get bigger. But Governor Deval Patrick is arguing that voters shouldn’t see Probation’s woes as part of a broader culture of corruption on Beacon Hill.

“For the public,” Patrick said last night on WGBH’s Greater Boston, “this sort of thing is their worst nightmare. And it makes them worry about whether much, much more of state government functions in that way.
Gov. Patrick on the set of Greater Boston on Tuesday. (WGBH)

“I think it’s really important that we are aggressive about Probation reform,” Patrick added. “The Senate president, the speaker and I talked about it at our leadership meeting just yesterday, as a matter of fact. I’d love to see them take up probation reform by the end of this year. “

Patrick also defended the right of elected officials to recommend people for jobs in state government -- even though that practice is at the center of the Probation department controversy. And he dismissed a proposal by outgoing State Representative Jennifer Callahan to ban such recommendations.

“I think that may be going too far,” Patrick said of the proposed ban. “I have tremendous respect for representative Callahan, and I understand what is motivating that. But not every recommendation is seedy or inappropriate.“

After his re-election, Patrick told the Boston Globe that he’d use his grassroots political network to pressure members of the Legislature, even if  legislators find that tactic irksome.

But his comments yesterday suggest Patrick also recognizes that he’ll need the support of House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray to push through his second-term agenda.

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