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Feeney could be putting ex-colleagues in awkward position

Maureen Feeney is putting her former colleagues in quite the public relations pickle.

Almost 48 hours after the polls closed, Feeney signed a resignation letter and set in motion widespread speculation that she is headed for the higher-paying job of city clerk. The City Council has the power to vote her in.

The last several city clerks have been former city councillors. But those appointments were made in a different time. Now there are stories in the newspapers, seemingly every month, about this patronage appointment or that misuse of public funds.

As Commonwealth magazine’s Michael Jonas put it: “The idea that service on the elected City Council includes the potential for a bonus payout of a six-figure job once a councilor tires of the grind of endless neighborhood meetings is exactly the kind of practice that feeds public cynicism toward elected officials. Didn’t we have enough of that with the ham-handed effort by Gov. Deval Patrick to install then-state Sen. Marian Walsh in a $175,000 job in a quasi-public state authority?”

In stark contrast to how it may go down in Boston, here is how Lowell is attempting to fill their open city clerk position: Six finalists were announced on Tuesday, after more than 120 people applied for the position, according to the Lowell Sun. One is a former Lowell city councillor. Another is an assistant city clerk in Worcester. Other candidates include assistant city clerks from Lawrence and Uxbridge.

“When it comes to hiring Boston’s next city clerk, maybe a nationwide search isn’t necessary,” the Globe’s Joan Vennochi writes. “But how about a citywide search or even a City Hall-wide one? Forget about it. The fix is in.”

Feeney’s former colleagues do have one thing going for them, if indeed Feeney is voted into the position of city clerk: Time. Whether it happens in December, January, or February, if at all, by the time the next municipal election rolls around in 2013, it’ll likely be a hiccup barely remembered by voters.