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Governor's Councilor proposes videotaping panel's meetings

Posted by Alan Wirzbicki  March 2, 2011 05:13 PM

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The Governor's Council, an obscure elected panel in Massachusetts state government that vets judicial nominees, has come under renewed scrutiny lately amid the erratic behaviour of some of its members.

Now one of the councilors, Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney, has called for videotaping council meetings, according to a report on the website of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Giving the public a closer look at the panel, she says, will combat negative impressions of the panel that have lead to calls for abolishing the council and transferring its responsibilities to the Legislature.

"There are too many misconceptions about the council," Devaney said, according to the report from this morning's meeting.

The ancestor of the governor's council was formed in 1628, and was a powerful counterbalance to the royal governor in the 18th century. Its powers waned over the centuries, however, and were severly limited in 1964 after eight councilors were sent to prison on corruption charges.

Today the body has few remaining powers, and its critics view it as an anachronism, but the eight members continue to draw an annual salary of $26,025 for what often amounts to several minutes of work every week.

Indeed, the rest of the news from this morning's meeting may not do much to help the standing of the councillors: according to the report, the meeting lasted five minutes. Only four of the eight councilors showed up — though a fifth reportedly arrived on Beacon Hill just as the meeting was ending.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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