Mitt whacks hack caught siphoning an MWRA pension

Mitt whacks hack caught siphoning an MWRA pension

HOWIE CARR

The hack du jour is Mike Ralph of the Mass. Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Ralph, a former coatholder for Tip O’Neill, has at least two things in common with Rep. Patches Kennedy.

No. 1, he’s never worked a bleepin’ day in his life.

No. 2, he has been known to take a drink under extreme social pressure.

This week, the 56-year-old layabout tried to pull an unarmed robbery at the State House. With the assistance of Sen. Robert Havern (D-Arlington), he managed to insert into the state budget an outside section, Sect. 655, which would have jacked up a single state pension – his. With another budget rider, Mike Ralph came thisclose to more than doubling his monthly kiss in the mail.

Right now, Mike Ralph could cash out with $34,550 a year.

Had Gov. Mitt Romney not vetoed the two outside sections, Ralph’s grab would have gone up to $72,220 a year.

Budget crisis? What budget crisis?

Calls to the two stick-up artists – Ralph and Sen. Havern – went unreturned yesterday.

A bit of background on this Ralph. He is an old North Cambridge boy, a hack’s hack, and once Tip announced he was all done in ’86, the MWRA picked Ralph up on waivers.

I hadn’t thought about Ralph since 1998, when he ingested a bad ice cube and slammed his car into a private house in Medford one morning at 3:30 a.m. At the time of his OUI arrest, Ralph was making $90,744. He is now up to $109,393. You can’t keep a good hack down, not at the MWRA anyway.

As the MWRA’s “director of public affairs,” he’s responsible for supervising the agency’s State House lobbying efforts. Mostly, it appears, Ralph’s been lobbying for himself, free-lancing.

He got Havern, the patron saint of MWRA hacks, to sneak a paragraph into the Senate budget that would allow Ralph to move over his years on the U.S. House payroll to the MWRA retirement system.

Mike Ralph would, of course, pay a pittance to “buy” those years back. In return, he would have reaped an extra $450,000 over the course of his “retirement” – as if he hasn’t already been retired his whole career.

Anyway, this stink-bomb sailed through the entire legislative process until the budget reached the governor’s desk. Since 655 only affected the MWRA, Romney’s people placed a call to the agency, where it was quickly determined it was, in fact, a payoff to one guy – Mike Ralph. Said Fred Laskey, MWRA executive director: “Neither the board nor the senior staff had any part in this legislation.”

Will there be any disciplinary action against Ralph?

“It’s premature. We’re still trying to sort out what happened.”

I’ll tell you what happened, Fred. This vermin had nothing to do except scheme, and being a hack, all he ever thought about was his pension. He saw his opportunity, and he took it.

Alas for Ralph, Gov. Romney vetoed Sect. 655, as well as 616, which would have authorized a new early retirement program. Of course, had 655 and 616 sailed through, Ralph’s ripoff would have still needed a sign-off from the MWRA retirement board, whose executive director is Brian Leahy, a onetime Dorchester ward boss for Kevin White. He was sponsored at the MWRA by someone named Bulger. The Bulgerite Leahy now makes $88,786.

Oh well, it was a nice try. For close to a half-million bucks, it was worth a shot. Tip would surely have approved. And one last thought: Do you think Gov. Shannon O’Brien would have vetoed Sect. 655?

Howie Carr’s radio show can be heard every weekday afternoon on WRKO AM 680, WHYN AM 560, WGAN AM 560, WEIM AM 1280, and WXTK 95.1 FM.

Copyright 2003

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