SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

June 20, 2014

Benton: A lucky break for Tucker

Just thinking that Salem police Chief Paul Tucker has to be one lucky candidate running unopposed for the state representative seat being vacated by John Keenan in January.

Several had considered taking a run at the office, but in the end, it was only Tucker who gathered the signatures needed to secure a place on the ballot. Good thing for him, since the recent scandal involving his good friend, law partner and fellow police officer Brian Gilligan would have made great fodder for an opponent.

Acting on complaints from others within the department about Gilligan’s private detail work, Tucker investigated and found instances in which his captain was being paid by private contractors while on city time. That’s a big no-no, not to mention a fraud on taxpayers.

In his letter of reprimand to Gilligan that included a five-day suspension and revocation of vacation days, the chief seemed at great pains to justify a penalty some would view as uncommonly lenient.

But Gilligan will no longer be his problem come January.

Meanwhile, city councilors might want to rethink their rejection of Mayor Kimberley Driscoll’s effort to remove the chief’s position from civil service. Under the current system, Gilligan remains one of only a handful with a realistic shot at taking over the post.

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The saddest aspect of the trial involving allegations of patronage within the state Probation Department is the fact that many — the defense, witnesses, observers — appear to view it as mere business as usual in the Bay State.

It brings to mind a story told a while back by a former legislator about a local official with scant qualifications who thought it might be a good idea to go to work for the commonwealth.

Was he looking for a laborer’s job, maybe in the Highway Department?

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