Boston Globe ‘Potlight’ Team Is Less Than Frank

May 3, 2019

First, a disclaimer.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe Spotlight Team report on political influence in the Massachusetts Weed Bakeoff is a terrific piece of reporting.

Increasing their nut graf:

[S]o far, winning a license to sell pot in Massachusetts often seems to be determined by whom you know — or if you can afford to pay a lobbyist or consultant who knows people.

At least 12 of the 17 recreational pot stores open as of May 1 hired lobbyists or former politicians. The Boston Globe Spotlight Team obtained, through public records requests, thousands of e-mails relating to pot shop proposals in a host of communities. The fingerprints of influence peddlers — consultants, lawyers, lobbyists — are all over them.

This should be no surprise; it would be a surprise, in fact, if the influence business had taken a pass on the lucrative potential of pot. But the flood of former government officials coming into the pot business — including former governor and current presidential candidate William F. Weld, former state House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., former Boston city councilor Michael P. Ross and even former Boston police superintendent-in-chief Daniel Linskey — is striking.


Noticeably absent from that roll-your-own call: former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, even though the Globe itself recently noted his tokin’ contribution to the weedification of the Bay State.

Barney Frank joins local marijuana business

When it comes to marijuana, Barney Frank and Bill Weld were both decades ahead of the political curve.

Frank, the longtime former Massachusetts congressman, supported legalization when he was a state representative in the early 1970s. Weld, for his part, backed medical marijuana as the governor of Massachusetts in the early 1990s. (Neither proposal went anywhere.)

Now, it’s Frank who will follow in Weld’s footsteps by joining a marijuana company. But while Weld last year joined the board of a slick conglomerate with national ambitions, Frank is linking up with a decidedly less corporate operation: Beantown Greentown, a local group of underground growers, marketers, and event organizers — you may remember their 100-foot joint stunt — trying to go legit.


The hardreading staff is not at all sure why the Globe bogarted Barney in its otherwise impressive investigation.

But our interest is definitely high.

Two Guys Named Mo

January 31, 2013

Remarkably, the local dailies pull a crisscross in their editorials today about Gov. Deval Patrick’s appointment of his former chief of staff William “Mo” Cowan to fill the U.S. Senate seat just vacated by John Kerry (D-I Am Secretary of State Now) until the special election this summer.

The Boston Herald’s surprisingly upbeat editorial:

Diversifying the Senate

Yes, Gov. Deval Patrick is inordinately fond of “firsts.” And by appointing his former chief of staff and chief legal counsel Mo Cowan to the U.S. Senate he will double the number of African-Americans currently in that branch, making it the first time since Reconstruction two black men will be serving in that body at the same time — although neither was elected. (South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley earlier named Republican Rep. Tim Scott to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Jim DeMint.)

There is something to be said for bringing a little diversity to a body badly in need of same. But Cowan is also smart, energetic, a consummate professional and at age 43 really just at the start of a promising career that come summer will take him back to the private sector. He is also unflaggingly loyal to the governor he has served since 2009. Patrick won’t have to lose any sleep wondering what Cowan will do or say next.

Which brings us to the best part — he’s not Barney Frank.


From the Boston Globe’s surprisingly downbeat editorial:

12132010_13cowanpic-7799105In naming Mo Cowan to Senate, Patrick lessens state’s clout

IN CHOOSING an interim senator to serve for almost five months, a governor should have one overriding priority: Providing the best possible representation for the people of Massachusetts. The quality of that representation can be measured not only by the character of the person chosen, but by the amount of clout the appointee brings to a short tenure in the Senate.

William “Mo” Cowan, Governor Patrick’s choice to fill the next four months of John Kerry’s term, has the requisite character, a solid knowledge of statewide issues, and has sounded the right notes of confidence and humility. But at 43, with only his stints as Patrick’s legal counsel and chief of staff as top-level credentials, Cowan counts as a surprising — and disappointing — choice. Simply put, Massachusetts is brimming over with political talent, including many potential picks of greater stature than Cowan, and many with vastly greater national experience.


Namely, former Massachusetts governor and failed presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, Ted Kennedy widow Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and – wait for it – unemployed and unlamented former Congressman Barney Frank.

The hardchoosing staff? We would have picked the Duke, who earned a Final Act with his block precinct work to get Deval elected  in the first place.

But, apparently, Cowan’s Mo-mentum trumped all that.

Barney Frank(enstein)

January 9, 2013

From our Call and Response desk

Yesterday a Boston Globe editorial called on Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint Barney Frank (D-I Love Me) to fill the interim U.S. Senate seat created by John Kerry’s departure for the State Department.

New Congress.JPEG-087bdPatrick should take Frank up on his Senate offer

‘DOES IT matter, in the case of Congressman Frank, what I would have preferred?” quipped Governor Patrick, after Barney Frank announced to the nation — on “Morning Joe,” no less — that he is seeking Patrick’s support for the four-month interim appointment to replace Senator John Kerry. Yes, Frank can be obnoxious, even to his friends. And as a retiring congressman who relishes the idea of never again going before the voters, he’s as unleashed as he ever has been. Washington, watch out.

But as Patrick acknowledged, Frank is an excellent candidate for interim senator. Choosing him would serve two important purposes. First, since he’s emphatically ruled out any future election, his selection would allow the voters to choose a permanent senator without having one of the candidates anointed by the governor. Second, he would be effective immediately as a senator, since he’s about as knowledgeable on federal budget issues as anyone in Congress. That’s crucial because budget cutting will be the prime agenda item for the next four months.


Paging Fannie Mae. Paging Ms. Fannie Mae.

Today Joe Fitzgerald responded in his Boston Herald column.

Andy Samberg Barney FrankBarney Frank’s wit dulled by peevish trait

Here’s why Barney Frank is no favorite at this address.

No, it’s got nothing to do with philosophical or lifestyle issues, because total agreement has never been the litmus test for admiring someone here; if it were, this writer would have spent his career surrounded by a very small circle of kindred spirits.

Indeed, Barney, of all polar opposites, should have been easy to admire here because of his mastery of the language and an agile mind that churned out memorable quips . . .

Barney had the stuff of a bon vivant, a hail fellow well met, a joy to be around. Instead he was too often an unpleasant sort, as if an anger festered within him just waiting for an excuse to be unleashed.

Even the Globe, in yesterday’s fawning editorial urging Gov. Deval Patrick to grant Barney’s wish for a four-month interim appointment as John Kerry’s successor, thought it necessary to note, “Yes, Frank can be obnoxious, even to his friends.”

Great. That’s just what’s needed in the nation’s capital right now, an obnoxious presence in an atmosphere where cordiality is desperately needed.


In a previous incarnation, the hardreading staff had occasional contact with Frank at the local public television station. Every time, he would walk in the door in full complaint – Why am I not on the set yet? I don’t have time to wait around. Are you going to hurry this up?

Our response tended to be, “Congressman, no one wants to get you out of here faster than us.”

Not sure that extends to the U.S. Senate, though.

Herald More Frank About Barney

January 5, 2013

From our Compare and Contrast in Clear Idiomatic English desk

Barney Frank (D-I Love Me) gets Page One of the local dailies today, but in very – wait for it – different ways (via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages).

Boston Globe:



Boston Herald:



The feisty local tabloid devotes two full pages to the Barney-burner, complete with Hall of Shame qualifications:

Picture 2


Note especially this:

Picture 3



A huge public policy blunder

During the beginning of the financial industry crisis, Frank defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from more government oversight, famously declaring the agencies “fundamentally sound.” We know how wrong that turned out to be.


Crosstown at the Globe, the coverage is more, well, restrained.

New Congress.JPEG-087bd-3155Barney Frank says he would like to be interim senator

On what should have been the first day of his retirement from Congress, former representative Barney Frank instead burst back onto the political scene, revealing that he had asked Governor Deval Patrick to appoint him to temporarily fill John Kerry’s Senate seat while a special election is held.

Frank said his 32 years in Congress made him especially qualified to help settle spending and entitlement fights that were pushed off several months by the New Year’s Eve fiscal cliff compromise between President Obama and congressional leaders.

“The first months of the new Senate will be among the most important in American history. I may be a little immodest, but I called the governor and said I think I can be a help in reaching a fair solution to some of these issues,” Frank told the Globe Friday.


Asked about running in the special election for the seat, Frank said “absolutely not.”

And does the Globe piece mention the Fannie/Freddie kerfuffle?

Absolutely not.