MISTER SPEAKER'S SHORT GOODBYE. The official Media Log iBook is back in the shop for the second time in less than three months. (Hey, Steve: What happened to Apple's quality control?) So, like our only president, I will take responsibility - but not the blame! - for any formatting problems, sketchiness, incoherence, or other problems that arise in the course of this adventure in blogland.
It seems like it was only a little more than a year ago that I was writing that Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran's power might have peaked. (That's because it was.) Now he's gone, off to be perhaps the only biotech lobbyist on earth who's opposed to embryonic-stem-cell research. For the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, clout obviously counts more than conviction.
Finneran's rapid departure was marked by that rarest of all things: an old-fashioned Beacon Hill newspaper battle. Time was when a few dozen reporters would scrap over the smallest of news items. Sadly, for the most part, the State House has gradually become the Place That Media Forgot, resulting in a concomitant lack of interest on the part of the public. Yes, I realize that there is a chicken-and-egg argument to be made here. I place myself firmly on the side of the chickens: if the State House were covered in an engaging way, readers would follow.
On the Finneran story it was the Herald that drew first blood, which is also increasingly rare, unless the subject happens to be hermaphrodite horse trainers or some such thing. But this is not a day to poke fun at the tabloid, because last Friday's paper was an example of tabloid journalism at its best. Reporter Ann Donlan somehow learned that Finneran had written on his disclosure to the State Ethics Commission that he was looking for a job in the private sector, and that a likely employer was the Mass Biotech Council. The front featured a smiling Finneran with the XXL headline, "WOULD YOU HIRE THIS MAN?"
After that, it was all over but the leaving. The Herald and the Globe both reported over the weekend that Finneran's departure was imminent, and that state representative Sal DiMasi, of the North End, had lined up the support he needed to become the next Speaker. Today, both papers go with big post-Finneran packages.
Today's must-read: Globe columnist Joan Vennochi on where it started to go wrong for Finneran, as talented and charming a pol as there is, but one who lost some of his effectiveness because of the familiar sins of hubris and arrogance.
The must-avoid: Mike Barnicle's suck-up piece (sub. req.) in the Herald. What's the deal, Mike? Finneran got playoff tickets and you don't?