By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Patrick to Murphy: Uh, no

There’s really nothing left to say about the saga of Middlesex Superior Court Judge Ernest Murphy, other than good for Gov. Deval Patrick for refusing to approve Murphy’s request for a disability pension.

I don’t consider myself a Murphy-basher. I don’t doubt that he suffered terribly at the hands of the Herald’s sensationalistic coverage of him — although Media Nation readers know I disagree with the libel verdict that he won, and that the state’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld.

But surely the $3.41 million he pocketed recently, along with the regular pension he could receive by working for just three more years is enough — provided he doesn’t get bounced for alleged misconduct over those weird letters he sent to Herald publisher Pat Purcell.

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Howie’s unusual agent


  1. Rick in Duxbury

    Both Murphy and the Bancrofts have once again proven that “when they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money”.

  2. Anonymous

    Interesting how that planted frank phillips article in the globe — which mentions the herald in its headline and takes several rather ostentatious swipes at the tab — has no comment from the herald. high standards indeed.

  3. Anonymous

    Normally, when I see you this cranky, I start to think that it’s that time of the Summer when you need your hiking vacation time.But then again, you just had a nice hiking trip recently, so what’s “frying up your nose, Dan?” WHat’s with the bad mood?For the last many months I have held off on commenting on so many posts and petty issues and you get worked up about some like a fish in a frying pan.First you post many times about crucial youth and Media issues and you miss oportunities there to address some important aspects, including a poignant study right in your backyard published recently about the subject. I could have posted half a book in responseto the posts and the ensuing comments you got, especially the VC guy and NPR and Journo non-profit cheerleaders.Then you go on a tangent trying to scuttle a casino deal, chipping away with some weak arguments. Now it is blaming the Police Chief with the fact that he belongs/lives in to a town he polices, which is something we generally want and owning property in a capitalist country should not be taken agianst one’s character or turned into unseemly motive when he did not generate this casino drive, nor sponsor it or bankroll it. But we will ‘punish’ him for happening to be a property-owning stander-by.Then you say Cramer is a loon, but a fair description of him really is a(n overly) quirky TV character who is not that funny but actually is a well-meaning genius who is a decent guy and good family guy who is worth his salt many times over compared to the pompous idiots on business TV and wait until clunky Fox Business starts and you’ll appreciate him even more.Then you insert yourself in the greater-than-life Mideast squabble and the Methodist/Christian activism saga when if we use 10% of one’s brain, we’d know exactly how Hill would respond to your hypothetical question. Given the choice nowadays between reaffirming the tenets of a candidate’s faith and risking poll numbers decrease, you know which they’ll choose.And now today, you start with snark targeting a small independent free tabloid that competes with your beloved Phoenix, I can understand the biased cheerleading but from a news man who is usually for the little guy, I didn’t expect to see you come down as you did on a struggling little publication who is trying to make it in a tough business world, let alone a media/publishing tough business climate. I am not a fan of them in the sense I have rarely been to thier site and rarely get a chance to pick their copy and don’t enjoy that flavor of journalism, but there is a demo/demand for it. So as small media organization as they are, I wish them well and hope they make it. Don’t we need more options not less? Freebies in this town are missing a huge opportunity given their watered content, but it isn’t time to give up on them yet, they need encouragement. I hope the Wilper/Permagint crowd refine their product to actually be relevant and original and more impactful. It’s a contrast to an emerging trend in Europe with these freebies like in the UK or with the Danish Experience Elsewhere, a “casino” magnate is shelling out close to $200 million for an upstart freebie in the Mideast.Then…(phewww)…we haaaaave this:”I don’t consider myself a Murphy-basher. I don’t doubt that he suffered terribly at the hands of the Herald’s sensationalistic coverage of him — although Media Nation readers know I disagree with the libel verdict that he won”No, Sir, it’s beyond that. YOu actually have contempt for the guy, you are squarely and mysteriously on the Herald side. I still cannot understand how you came down on that whole situation, unlike no-nonsense John Caroll’s instinct. I commend the governor for denying the request because I think judges are a tough breed of human beings and I believe he is still able to carry out his duties. But the impropriety with the letters is a textbook example why we have officers of the court recuse themselves from cases involving aquaintances, because as imperfect human beings, when it is too close to home, we can fall into minor mistakes like this, or just like the Stoughton case albeit this time, more serious. Murphy’s was a misstep but not one we should impeach him for nor bar him from the bench for. Power is a blinding thing often, judges are very powerful and this was a fairly beningn display of power, given that he had a court ruling already on his side and the judgement/payment had already been entered in his favor, so let’s not build this up more than we should, (ok Bailey?)If we were to smother lawmakers for such minor abuses of power/ego, no US, state or world assembly or court would be left undissolved. That’s why we have ethics commitees for minor breaches and we have prosecutorial remdies for more serious lapses (Alaskan trip, anyone?)And finally, we come to the revelation that -who knew?- Howie doesn’t mind associating with hate radio kinds? And yes, the sky is still blue. What I do like about the post, is precisely the inside baseball story you wrote before and would love to see more of. (countdown on when is over-exposed Ernie JR would popoff on the subject) Just please be careful with your language next time. Ending your piece with the oft-borrowed “Come On Down” is dicey business. Gazillion-dollar Boch Empire is suing the ‘pants’ (How about that for random judge parody for ya??) out of another “charming” not-annoying-at-all entity for the ‘very original’ catch phrase, namely Bob’s Store. As of to when a re-energized “The Price is Right” would come down and sue ALL of ya for copyright infringement, that I don’t know. “I hear in recent meetings, the issue drew careyful blood”N.PS: Boston Sports Media in print and radio yet again, in the space of 12 hours, jumped the snark -strike that- jumped the shark on many issues. I thought I’d see you post something about that. Still weighting! -Sorry I was thinking of the BigShow- make that ‘Still Waiting!’PPS: Does Boch family’s supposed ‘Hate radio’ past complicate life in the Vineyard Haven property dispute? (What, another Boch botched product delivery/architectural design?) We hear from Brian Phoney Baloney that most CapeCoders – how about capers or capians…rhymes with homosapians if we replace ..oh never mind or even the more French CapeCodiens- are mostly crypto-Elephants down there, so beware the long memories.What are they down there? Repubs? Nimbys?Pimbys? What is exactly Kennedy-Kerry-Clinton-Russert-LarryDavid’s playground? Or does it straddle ‘both sides’? hmmm…

  4. Dan Kennedy

    N.: Wow. Looks like you’re going to have to find another blog to read.Since I don’t have the time or inclination to respond to all of this, I’ll just say that one of the first things I do on Wednesdays is go to to read “Media Farm,” which I enjoy even when I’m not in it. I can’t get the Dig where I live, and since it’s summer, I usually go into Boston only once a week or so.How you took my post as being anti-Dig is beyond me. Jeff Lawrence, the publisher, took my post in the spirit in which I intended it — see his response.If you want to criticize Boston Sports Media, you should start a blog. I don’t read it that often. I didn’t realize you had assigned it to me.Oh, and my deepest apologies for not wanting to see my hometown destroyed.

  5. o-fish-l

    Why, pray tell, is the Governor and not an independent panel of MDs deciding whether or not a state employee is disabled by a MEDICAL condition? “Together we can” render medical opinions even though we have no background in medicine. Ha!This is almost as good as Al Gore, complete with his B.A. in Government, making pronouncements on “global warming”. The beautiful people know no bounds when it comes to knowing it all. Hilarious!So now what happens if Murphy returns to the bench, has a “meltdown” and hurts himself or somebody else. Is Dr. Deval going to be on the hook?

  6. mike_b1

    o-fish-l, if you were writing about, say Dan and statistics, I might agree. But where it is written that someone without a specialization in a particular field isn’t capable of understanding and articulating the issues of said field? Put another way, when you have a headache, do you call the doctor every time or do you just take a damn aspirin? I’ve never seen Gore — to use your example — hold himself up as a climate scientist. Rather, he publicly explains and stresses what is a widely held scientific position.We rely on topic experts all the time, and for good reason. But that doesn’t mean the topic expert is the only one capable of making the argument.

  7. Anonymous

    I dont know what this n. guy is more full of — himself, or horse manure. but either way, dan’s right – he should quit whiNing and start his own blog.

  8. Anonymous

    I had sympathy for the judge during the initial suit and decision, probably in part because I have no use for Pat Purcell and his Herald, but in light of this letter he allegedly sent extorting more money, and now this claim for early retirement, I think the pendulum may be swinging the other way.One question I have concerns the money in his government pension. Why, if he gets early retirement, is he eligible for a tax free payment equal to 75% of his current salary, and if he completes 10 years of service and is fully vested in the pension, he only gets 50%. Am I missing something here? It seems like an awful incentive to scam an early retirement in order to get the better deal.

  9. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    Middlesex? Is that another kind of marriage that’s legal in MA?

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 5:11: Here’s the difference. Murphy is seeking a disability pension, an extra-special pension that essentially allows him to retire early because his health was shattered in the line of duty. That’s why it would be 75 percent of his salary.If he serves 10 years and takes the regular pension to which he’s entitled, that’s only 50 percent. But that’s because there’s no disability payment involved.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Here are some statistics Mike thinks I don’t understand: 14 W, 11 L, 3.29 ERA, 240.2 IP. I think I understand those rather well.Mike this subject is long over with, but I find it fascinating that you keep holding me up for my alleged statistical ignorance.Here’s challenge: Find one baseball pundit other than yourself, anywhere, who thinks the Red Sox didn’t miss Bronson Arroyo last year.

  12. mike_b1

    No one — no one – thinks Arroyo would have made a difference between the Red Sox making the playoffs or not making the playoffs. Your argument all along has been you can’t have enough pitching. But Arroyo had long ceased to be an effective pitcher in Boston. In fact, he was one of the 3 worst starting pitchers in the AL when they traded him. He put up a little more than half a good season in Cincy, and has since predictably imploded.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: That’s not really what I asked you, but OK. I think most knowledgeable baseball people believe Arroyo could have made a difference if the Sox hadn’t fallen victim to the injury bug in such a big way last year.Arroyo’s streaky, but he had a very good year in 2006 and finished strongly. His implosion this year certainly wasn’t predicted by the Reds.

  14. mike_b1

    The Reds aren’t known for making good baseball decisions. His regression was utterly predictable to most everyone else. You asked a loaded question. Had Arroyo turned in a season like he did in 2006 for the Red Sox, it would have been useful, sure. It would not have made up for all the injuries or the lousy team defense or the falloff in run production. To more specifically address your question, I’ve never heard anyone say: Gosh, if only we had Arroyo back, we would have made up those 11 games on New York.Either way, it’s a big “had.” Since 2004, he had been getting worse. AL hitters knew to wait on the fastball, which isn’t all that fast. His inability to fool batters meant he wasn’t striking anyone out (his dropping K/9 rates bear this out), which meant he had to rely more on the (crap) defense for outs. Here’s what BP forecast during the last offseason: 2007 (age 30) W 12 L 11 GS 31 IP 203.3 WHIP 1.30 ERA 4.36 BB/9 2.2 K/9 5.9 HR/9 1.2 2008 (age 31) W 11 L 11 GS 30 IP 193.7 WHIP 1.33 ERA 4.51 BB/9 2.3 K/9 5.7 HR/9 1.2 Absolutely pedestrian.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Johan Santana couldn’t have made up those 11 games. You’re stacking the deck. I’m talking about the mid-July 2006 Sox, before everyone went down with injuries. If the Sox had been within two or three games of making the playoffs, Arroyo could have spelled the difference. We know that Wily Mo Peña didn’t.

  16. Anonymous

    Sorry Sorry Sorry for the confuson here. I shouldn’t have capped those letters. I did not mean Bruce Allen’s BSM. Not in the least. I am a huge fan of his and of Scott and the rest of their team and work.Apologies for any confusion to Bruce & Co.I meant Boston Sports Media, ie the amalgam of pompous scribes and radio jocks and TV personalities who have been fawning over very imperfect trade transactions and the amount of kissing up in the last couple of days flying all around.As for the Dig, you say:”How you took my post as being anti-Dig is beyond me.”Sir, you are not going to sit there and tell me your post was glowingly positive. There was no underpinning story involving the Dig, you weren’t lauding them for a job well-done on a particular story and you weren’t giving them advice. Some site that has nothing better to do picks up this nonstory and wants again to pick something or some scene to laugh at before going to bed and that is it. Your follow-up post was at the very very least a bit of a put down, which you are entitled to express, albeit on a substantive subject preferrably.By default a newspaper is always on, their site should be on, the Digg’s is not on, we post on it and let the world know, somhow that doesn’t strike as very helpful. “They still have the nerve to have ads on there” kinda tone is not endearing either. It’s their site. It’s their bills that are due and if there is a willing advertiser, what is so special here that needs blogging about?The same guy who trolls online just looking for someone to call Masshole yet again on one of his headlines. I cannot tell you how offensive that is for someone who worries about the image of this state being tarnished for the stupidest unfair little reasons and yet we bandy that around so easily. The same guy who was going after the little Verizon ads kid, telling people to go get contraception just to avoid having any kids remotely like him. This is someone who HAS kids and makes fun of other people’s God given little kid. How classy! The kid strikes me as very sharp and a very natural, gifted actor, probably on his way to multimillionaire stardom in a few years. Why would I or anyone blog on how someone’s little kid is ugly or weird or anything, especially when it is false and the ad is very very well made? And I am allergic to PC garbage, but this was uncalled for.I am sure Adam is a good guy, a very smart guy, but someone find him an additional new hobby, please.Regarding your: “Oh, and my deepest apologies for not wanting to see my hometown destroyed.”You don’t have to patronize observing me, I don’t have a horse in the race, so to speak. Address that to the 2/3 rds who voted it up for “their” hometown. N.

  17. o-fish-l

    At 4:24 PM mike_b1 wrote: “Put another way, when you have a headache, do you call the doctor every time or do you just take a damn aspirin?” —Mike, perhaps for a headache I would take an aspirin but for diagnosis of a career ending disability I would call a doctor, not a politician. For me the Globe story raises more questions than it answers. Chief among these, why is the Governor–bereft of any medical training or experience– apparently authorized to “reject” an employee’s application for disability retirement?Imagine if Deval donned a white coat, took the Caddy over to the state lab and began examining petrie dishes to determine which mosquitos had EEE. The scenario is absurd, but no more so than Deval passing judgement on a state employee’s medical fitness.State law seems both clear and strict in cases of disability retirement. Here’s an excerpt from the website of PERAC (Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission): “When a member of a contributory retirement system applies for disability retirement benefits, he/she must file a Member’s Application for Disability Retirement with his/her retirement board. When the retirement board determines that the application is complete, the board (which meets at least once each month) will petition PERAC’s Disability Unit to appoint a three-member, independent regional medical panel (of doctors) to examine the applicant.” “To be considered disabled, a member’s retirement board must find that the member is totally and permanently unable to perform the essential duties of his/her position.” “If the member is applying for an accidental disability retirement, the retirement board must also find that the member’s incapacity is the natural and proximate result of sustaining an injury or undergoing a hazard while performing his/her duties at a definite time and place without willful and serious misconduct on his/her part.”Elsewhere on the website is a reference to when certain employees must apply for disability retirement. State court judges are mentioned: “Firefighters, municipal police officers, elected officials, personal staff of an elected official chosen by that elected official, policy-making appointees, or immediate legal advisors of an elected official and state court judges must apply before reaching the maximum age for their group.” Check out the PERAC site here: correct me if I’m missing something, but it seems that the decision making authority is placed in the hands of the retirement board (based on the findings of the medical panel) precisely to avoid political interference in cases just like Murphy’s.While many of the above listed PERAC regulations may sound Greek to the folks in the dreaded private sector, most public employees are at least somewhat familiar with them. The first thing I thought of when reading the Globe story was, what did the medical panel say?Frank Phillips would have done well to report on why a Governor with no medical expertise has the authority to “reject” an application for disability retirement and why Murphy’s application seems to have followed a far different route than prescribed by state law. Although judges seem to be covered by the PERAC regulations, perhaps there is some extraordinary alternate method for judges. It would have been nice to have an explanation in the Globe. I won’t even delve into the whole separation of powers thing, but I also wonder why the Executive is exercising administrative powers over the Judiciary.

  18. mike_b1

    Talk about stacking the deck. You’re throwing out a hypothetical, then using it as a base for your conclusion. The season doesn’t end in mid July. If it did, the Red Sox might not have gone 86 years without a new flag.

  19. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: You may recall that this began when I first ripped the trade, in April ’06. Nothing hypothetical about it until the Sox fell out of contention.

  20. mike_b1

    Dan, the hypothetical was your comment that Arroyo “would have made a difference if the Sox hadn’t fallen victim to the injury bug in such a big way last year.” Fact is, everyone got hurt. Arroyo’s presence would neither have changed nor offset that uncomfortable truth.

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