Plea for Finneran

Boston.com is leading the site with the news that former House Speaker Thomas Finneran will plead guilty to charges of obstruction of justice. The story, by Frank Phillips and Shelley Murphy, comes just as Governor Romney is stepping down and Deval Patrick becomes the new governor. The political landscape in Massachusetts really is being transformed.

I covered Finneran for several years when I was at the Phoenix. I whacked him plenty. Having said that, he was absolutely one of the smartest public officials I ever reported on, particularly on Beacon Hill. With all the ink devoted to the four recent Republican governors — Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney — an argument could be made that the influence of all of them was a fraction of that of Finneran. Remember how he convinced the Republican legislators to vote for him for Speaker, a parliamentary maneuver that had never before been attempted, to win the position over his more liberal opposition.

As a footnote, I can’t help but marvel at Frank Phillip’s name being on the story. At this point, Phillips, who covered George Keverian’s insurgent path to the Speakership back in the 1980s, has been around the State House longer and has more institutional knowledge than almost anyone else — especially most of the people he covers.

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