Besides incumbency, of course, Timilty also had name recognition working in her favor, thanks to a political pedigree that includes a state senator great-grandfather, a brother and cousin who are active state legislators, a great uncle who was Boston Police commissioner, and a father, Joseph F., who served in the State Senate and on the Boston City Council. Until news surfaced after the 2008 primary election that she falsely advertised Patrick’s endorsement in her campaign literature — an embarrassing blunder that resulted in her issuing a public apology and being penalized $8000 — sources say Timilty glided underneath the radar. A survey of late 2008 minutes suggests she still rarely chimes in at meetings.
Also banking on family laurels was Iannella Jr., whose namesake father was the longest-sitting Boston City Council president; whose brother Richard is Suffolk County register of probate; and whose sister Suzanne is one of three Boston Licensing Board members. Running for his 13th term, Iannella clobbered two primary opponents with 57 percent of the vote. Likewise, Callahan, Fiola, and Manning smoked their competition.
Should all common sense be forgot
It seems that money is the root of council evil. When members are not debating nominees, they’re often questioning each other’s ethics. Under an executive order issued by Patrick — as was the case under Romney — judicial candidates are forbidden from contributing to the coffers of the governor, lieutenant governor, and councilors after submitting applications to the JNC. There are no guidelines, however, for councilors who have taken donations from candidates in the past, nor are there conflict-of-interest safeguards for members who have previously or will in the future face nominees in a professional capacity. “This is old fashioned pay-to-play down-and-dirty politics,” complains Manning.
The council’s first major spat of 2008 came in February, when Manning and Merrigan pounced on one another over the appointment of Linda Fidnick to the Hampshire County Probate and Family Court. According to Manning, who spoke against her, Fidnick laughed when asked if she represents only clients she believes in. “She’s a woman of integrity — I’ve known her for 28 years,” interjected Merrigan, who called his colleague’s comments “cheap” and “derogatory.” Meeting minutes show that Manning countered, “My remarks weren’t snotty and sarcastic. Yours are, sir,” adding, “What’s really going on here is that you’ve got a constituent that donates money to you,” in reference to a $200 contribution that Fidnick made to Merrigan in 2006.
One of the most heated recent council feuds came in March, when GLBT civil-rights advocate and former state senator Cheryl Jacques came up for a quasi-judicial spot on the Industrial Accidents Board (IAB). According to meeting minutes, Manning argued that Jacques had “never invested a single minute of her legal career in the worker’s-compensation arena,” and that her nomination was a favor from Patrick, to whom Jacques and fellow family members gave at least $2000 in 2006. In light of her relative inexperience for a $107,000-a-year position that ensures Jacques’s full state pension, only Manning and Devaney voted against the former state senator’s IAB approval. “I don’t believe anything this [Patrick] administration tells me,” says Manning. “They’re the most secretive, double-talking group of people that I’ve dealt with yet.”