VAUDEVILLE SHOW AT THE SUFFOLK COURT HOUSE

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^ the Lady’s not for trashing : Patty Campatelli on the big stage — with Mayor Walsh

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It’s vaudeville time at the Edward W. Brooke Court house down-town, hard by TD North Garden, up the street from pugs and mugs bars, close on Haymarket Square.

Yep, vaudeville time. There’s the current Register, said to be a party animal given to fisticuffs and cuss words. She’s now on “paid leave” while certain scandalous allegations made against her are duly investigated by inquisitors official.

There’s not one but two (2) former City Council candidates — one of them who served as such, with distinction — seeking to replace her. There’s also an East Boston businessman in the running. My question to all is, “why ?”

WHY does ANYONE want to be Register of Probate ? Why is the job an elected one at all ?

The Register of Probate keeps the records of Probate Court cases : estates, guardianships, divorces, custody matters, and some restraining orders. Because estates especially are public records and must necessarily be so, the keeper of these records gets to be elected by the public. Or so goes the collective wisdom of those who enact our State’s laws. And why not elect each county’s Register of Probate ? We elect the State Auditor, for goodness sake. We elect Registers of Deeds. We elect Library commissioners.

One wonders why we don’t go ahead and elect the Boston Harbor Master, or the Commissioner of Transportation, or the Franklin Park Overseers. But the trend is moving in the opposite direction : toward appointing ministerial officials. Heck, we no longer elect even Boston’s School Committee — and for very good and sufficient reason. Our experience of the School Committee in its last decade was of a body beset by racist demagoguery, by insider politics with respect to administrative jobs, by a custodian’s union immune to reform and accused — perhaps unfairly — of acts verging on the illegal. The elected school committee spent more time politicking than managing; and the school department’s managers spent more time politicking, too. Today, the Mayor appoints Boston’s school committee. It perhaps hasn’t enough power : but it does advise, and often wisely. Those who serve on it do so as citizen activists, which is what elected school committees are supposed to do as they govern the system that prepares the entire society’s next generation.

A Register of Probate has no such vital task. The Register’s work is purely ministerial. The only connections the office have public policy are that its expenses are paid by the public, and its administration must enable those who seek Probate services to do so efficiently and well informed.

Upon these tasks are placed, in Suffolk County, a six figure salary and a six year term. a Register, once elected, is almost impossible to defeat. The work is not strenuous. Assistant registers do the grunt stuff. A name well known to the voting public, and not tainted by scandal, gives a candidate entree to that never-to-be-lost six figure income and the tasty pension that accrues to it.

Thus the vaudeville. Let’s look at the players :

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^ out of retirement : Felix D. Arroyo with newly elected Charlestown St Representative Dan Ryan

Your show time includes Felix D. Arroyo, returning from pleasant retirement in Uruguay, to the political klieg lights with a familiar beard and an act that he performed very skillfully long before he was ever a City Councillor : administrator of a bureaucracy. People forget that he served as such in the Mayor administration of Ray Flynn.

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^ dancing and prancing : Marty Keogh is rushing to the stage now

The marquee also lights up the name Marty Keogh, long a City Hall aide and, last year, a City Council candidate at large. Keogh has an especially lively act on offer.

Every vaudeville act needs a newcomer, a kind of opening act, and in East Boston business-person John Sepulveda, this show has its man. Give him room to show his stuff and then applaud or throw rotten tomatoes, in the best vaudeville tradition.

And finally there’s Patty Campatelli, the buxom gal who won the Register’s job in 2012, when it happened to be open; and who has since then entertained many, infuriated others, and delighted me. I kind of like her act. Spunky, charismatic, buxom strong. But then she hasn’t yet punched my face or called me a vagina.

Yes, it’s show time at the Probate Comedy Hour, and not far from where once the Old Howard theater — formerly an emporium of serious theatricals — displayed strippers and dialect comics to Harvard students and those who couldn’t get enough of bare boobs, scatological wise cracks, and ethnic cartoonery. I miss the Old Howard, and so, probably, do you. Time to welcome it back.

Arroyo, Campatelli, Keogh, Sepulveda. One to be Register of Probate, the others to be — why not ? — Boston Harbor Master, Franklin Park Commissioner, Head Keeper of Licensed Bicycles. I insist.

All that’s missing, so far, is for Ted Lewis to strut on stage, cane in hand, and orate “Is everybody happy ?”

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR FINAL — THE EAST BOSTON CASINO REFERENDUM

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^ casino = construction jobs — East Boston’s State senator Anthony Petrucelli endorsing Marty Walsh (backdrop : the City Hall that Walsh wants to sell, on the Plaza he proposes to develop)

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However many East Boston voters you thought would turn out on Mayor Election Day, double it. For “Eastie” November 5th isn’t simply going to be about choosing a new mayor, important though that is for the only Boston neighborhood that has to pay a toll to get into “town.” Much bigger a deal is the Suffolk downs casino project, approval — or not — of which only East Boston will vote upon. The casino is a huge game changer for Eastie. It will likely employ over 4,000 people, many of them surely from the neighborhood. There’ll be much traffic, lots of excitement, entertainment, tourism, the works.

“NIMBY” people hate the idea. So do the busybodies who think that gambling is evil and want to prevent the rest of us from doing it. They’ll be voting in big numbers on referendum day. But so too will the project’s supporters. Already the campaign signs — “It”S ABOUT THE JOBS” and “VOTE “YES” FOR SUFFOLK DOWNS” — have arisen on many many East Boston houses and lawns.

The mayoral campaigns have taken notice and profited by it. Yesterday State Senator Anthony Pettrucelli endorsed Marty Walsh, who as the candidate of labor, including construction workers above all, is all for the casino project. It will give jobs to Walsh’s stand-out volunteers, door-knockers, and contributors — and to Senator Petrucelli’s constituents. This is a political marriage almost ideal for both men. As Walsh lost East Boston on Primary day by a significant percent, the endorsement by Petrucelli, plus a huge vote turnout, can only boost Walsh’s campaign significantly.

Yet John Connolly is not without his Eastie strength. He supports the Suffolk Downs casino project as much as does Walsh : it gives the City $ 55 million (at latest count) in “mitigation” money. Connolly was endorsed by East Boston State Representative Carlo Basile before the Primary; and Connolly carried the Ward. Often a neighborhood’s State Representative is “closer to the ground’ than its State Senator, who has an area six times as large to cover. It is hard to imagine Basile not commanding a strong and much larger poll on November 5th and, other factors being equal, winning for his candidate over Petrucelli’s.

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^ East Boston’s State Rep Carlo Basile : endorsed John Connolly in July

D 1 sal LaMattina and Mayor

^ Sal LaMattina, East Boston’s City Councillor is ….said to be close to…..

One major political voice of East Boston remains to be heard : East Boston’s City Councillor, Sal LaMattina. (He also represents Charlestown and the North End, but those neighborhoods aren’t voting in the casino referendum.) LaMattina is said to be close to Mayor Menino. The rumors about Menino’s feelings with respect to this election have already gone public. I can personally attest two indications that Menino is giving assistance to John Connolly : (1) for the vacant District Five Council seat, city worker Tim McCarthy is receiving assistance and support from state Rep. Ed Coppinger, Connolly’s top campaign chief and (2) Vinnie Marino of Roslindale, a real estate developer said to be very close to Mayor Menino, is hosting a fund-raiser for John Connolly next week.

So what of Sal LaMattina in that equation ? Surely his supporters will be wanting jobs at the Suffolk Downs casino as surely as Basile’s and Petrucelli’s. Will he be helping Connolly win East Boston’s big November vote ? After all, Menino’s support for Connolly is sai to come, in part, because he wants “his” people “protected” in the jobs they now hold. Or maybe moved comfortably to the casino ? It does happen. I wanted to ask LaMattina his opinion on these matters; but he has not, as of this writing, returned my phone call.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPATE : I should probably include in this East Boston gumbo Patty Campatelli, who last year won election as Suffolk Register of Probate — defeating Sal LaMattina, in fact, by 800 votes. Campatelli had been unknown politically prior to running for that office; yet she won. She lives in “Eastie.” i wonder whom she is going to support in this showdown. So far, not a clue.

SECOND UPDATE : Boston, October 9th, 10.20 AM : we are informed that Sal LaMattina will endorse John Connolly at a press conference today, along with two other major endorsers.  We will be reporting from that conference. — MF