Howie Carr column ping
Carr on drivers
From Kerik to Menino, political wheelmen often roll to the top
By Howie Carr | Sunday, November 18, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Columnists
Who will drive the candidates car?
This is a very big question for the average politician. Because if you come up with the wrong person, it can lead to trouble, far down the road.
Just ask Rudy Giuliani. He did what most pols do - he picked a cop, a fast-talking street guy by the name of Bernie Kerik. Hows that working out for you, Rudy?
First Bernie gets indicted, now his ex-girlfriend, Judith Regan, is suing Rupert Murdochs News Corp. [NWS] This lunachick, as Regan is now called, claims she was fired as a book publisher because Rudys driver had given her enough dirt to hurt Ruperts guy Rudy. I guess you could call it pillow talk.
But then, in Boston we have our own examples of politicians hiring the wrong drivers. Most make the same decision Rudy did - a cop. Usually an aspiring pol has two types of drivers to choose from: a cop or a true believer, usually an ambitious, unemployed young man who dreams of someday becoming the person hes driving, and in the meantime wants to share his insights with the candidate in the back seat.
From which category would you pick - semistalker or cop?
Always get a cop, one now-retired statewide officeholder used to say. Theyre used to doing nothing and getting paid for it.
The late Sonny McDonough, once a governors councilor, had a different take on it. He didnt trust cops, not as drivers, and certainly not in the role into which drivers sometimes evolve: bagmen.
Never give a cop money, Sonny would lecture, unless its for himself.
The corollary of which was, I always hate it when a cop hands me $300 from somebody, because I never know if he stole $200 or $700.
But look on the bright side of having a cop driver. You never come out of a meeting and discover that the car is gone. Again, the paramilitary background. You neednt worry about inane chatter. On the job, cops seldom speak unless spoken to.
Most important, with a cop you dont have to worry about traffic problems. Parking in front of a fire plug? So what. Ditto speeding tickets or driving in the breakdown lane. You dont get pulled, period. Its professional courtesy.
So the pol wins the election, and your cop driver quite naturally expects to be rewarded. Alas, sometimes things dont work out. Paul Cellucci got state trooper/driver Tony Dichio the U.S. marshals job. Tony left after his work habits made the front page. Bill Welds driver, a state cop named Joe Lawless, became director of security at Massport. Nobody cared, until Sept. 11.
Mayor Ray Flynn needed a driver more than most - and Boston cop John Swerve Swirbalus was his trusted aide. Alas, Swerve was convicted in 1995 of attempting to obstruct justice to quash a road-rage incident. Poor Swerve, hes not a bad guy.
Not every pol goes for a cop, though. The problem is, the civilian driver needs that hack job much more desperately than a cop does. Chub Peabody, when he was running for governor, had a young wheelman named Dapper ONeil. Chub won and the Dap was his patronage secretary for about two days. Then Dapper got shipped out to the Boston Licensing Board, where he was soon defending Combat Zone dives.
Then there was Jailbird Joe Timilty, thrice-unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Boston. I wonder how he feels about his old driver, Mumbles Menino, who went to the Parkman House while his mentor was packed off to Club Fed.
Around here, the biggest payoffs to drivers have come from the Bush family. In 1980, George H.W. Bush used Massachusetts state reps during the New Hampshire primary. Andy Card became a cabinet secretary for 41 and then 43s White House chief of staff. Ex-rep Andrew Natsios has had a string of good federal jobs at good wages. Another of 41s drivers, Mass state cop James Roche, became marshal for Boston, then top marshal for the United States, and now a court clerk.
The pols come and they go. Cellucci liked to ride in the front seat, Mitt had a convoy (the Mob would call them crash cars). As for Deval, unlike Mitt, he doesnt like anyone with him in the back seat. He travels solo, staring out the Caddys tinted windows. But they all need drivers, and the drivers all want a quo for the quid.
Theres one way around the problem, of course. You could do what Mike Dukakis did - take the Green Line. I dont see another another Dukakis on the horizon, do you?
Today’s Pols and Politics feature in the Boston Herald mentions Herald scribe Tony Massarotti’s appearance
on Finneran’s Forum, in which Tony says he has no respect for “courtroom liars” like
Barry Bonds. There was an embarassing silence.
“Discussing Barry Bonds federal perjury rap on his radio show Friday, ex-House Speaker Tom Finneran opened up somewhat of a Pandoras box when he asked Herald baseball guru Tony Massarotti for his feelings on the case.
“Massarotti proceeded to rail against Bonds for allegedly lying under oath, saying he had no respect for courtroom liars.
“Finneran, who pleaded guilty to federal obstruction of justice charges for misleading a grand jury, was painfully silent. You could almost hear the flummoxed felon squirming in his chair. After Massarottis colorful analysis ended, Finneran abruptly thanked him for coming on the show and went to a commercial.”
I remember Howie's story about intercepting a cellphone or radio call trying to decide if Dukakis should arrive by car or on foot to some event in Boston. The aides decided to drop the gov off a block or two away so he could appear to have walked from his office.
I generally hated the Green Line, but only because they scheduled it to arrive at BU five minutes before evening classes got out, and making connections to the Orange Line was pain, since that was the time those cars went out of service, and rather than wait for another train, I'd hoof the tunnel to the Orange line, usually missing that train by 5-15 seconds. I think it was about 20 minutes to the next one.