Writing on opinion pages last month, House Speaker Robert DeLeo boasted of the Legislature's accomplishments during the session just ended.
The "first order of business," according to DeLeo, was the ethics bill which sought to "restore faith in state government" through various changes in the law including increasing the authority of the state Ethics Commission "to investigate and prosecute alleged ethics violations."
It's now incumbent on DeLeo to match those words with action by joining those demanding real reform within the state Probation Department and urging his friend and ally, Rep. Thomas Petrolati, D-Ludlow, to fully cooperate with a special prosecutor's investigation into allegations of mismanagement and patronage within that agency.
During the tenure of former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien, Petrolati's wife, a former aide and the husband of a current aide, all received probation jobs paying $70,000 a year or better. O'Brien was forced to step down earlier this year for the very abuse of the public's trust that DeLeo says he and his colleagues are determined to halt.
As of late last week, Petrolati was seeking to quash the subpoena that would require him to share with investigators his knowledge of how things worked in the Probation Department.
Sadly, most regard the favoritism shown friends and relatives of Petrolati and others as par for the course in Massachusetts. O'Brien even hired his own daughter, and was only called on the carpet by his boss, the chief administrator of the trial courts, when he attempted to put former Boston College football teammate Stephen Anzalone Sr.'s son on the payroll.
It would have been the sixth time Anzalone, the chief probation officer in Malden District Court, had been able to secure a court position for a relative.
Ironically, Stephen Anzalone Jr. lost his job because it was discovered he had lied on his application about how many relatives he had working in the Probation Department. Perhaps even he was embarrassed.
This week the Supreme Judicial Court upheld Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan's decision to fire the younger Anzalone.
The judiciary is doing its part to end this abuse of the process and taxpayer funds. DeLeo and his colleagues in the Legislature must step up and do the same if they are to maintain a shred of credibility with voters.