Sparks fly over talks on Governor’s Council picks

State House News Service / September 16, 2010

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A meeting of the Governor’s Council erupted into heated debate yesterday as a pair of councilors questioned the decision to cancel last week’s scheduled hearings and one alleged that the delay guaranteed the appointment of Industrial Accident Board judges without a hearing.

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, who was visibly irritated as he presided over the weekly meeting, retorted that councilors complaining about the scheduling of hearings were often absent from them and should “look in the mirror.’’ “Maybe you should show up to them,’’ he said.

Murray was responding to an accusation by Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning that the public was being “cheated’’ out of a public hearing on the judges because their reappointment would be automatic if hearings are not held within 30 days of their nominations.

Murray responded by saying that when councilors do not attend hearings, it is their constituents who are “cheated.’’ Murray said last week’s meeting and hearings were canceled because several councilors — Carole Fiola, Thomas Merrigan, Chris Iannella, and Michael Callahan — were unable to attend because of scheduling conflicts and illness.

Although hearings are often held without a quorum, Murray said, the two councilors slated to preside — Fiola and Merrigan — were unavailable, and he pointed to a longstanding tradition of permitting councilors from the hometown of the nominees to preside.

“We’re simply honoring that tradition,’’ he said. Although Murray declined to recognize her, Manning continued to press her point. Murray then spoke over her to open a roll call.

Manning argued that only the governor may reschedule hearings, and she repeatedly asked whether Patrick had authorized the changes. She did not receive an answer.

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