BOSTON (State House News Service) -- With Gov. Charlie Baker wielding the gavel, the Governor's Council on Thursday approved what may be the largest single Treasury warrant in state history, while any action on judicial nominees was postponed to next week after the death of a councilor's parent.
Normally approved every week on a routine voice vote, the Treasury warrant effectively authorizes the state to pay its bills. Because the council had not approved such a financial document since May 26, Wednesday's warrant rang in at an accumulated $10 billion.
A funeral was held in Peabody earlier Thursday for Mary Duff, mother of North Shore Councilor Eileen Duff, and two council confirmation hearings originally slated for Thursday were rescheduled for next week.
Industrial Accidents Board nominee Michael Sherry and Superior Court nominee Brian Glenny are now set for public interviews July 14. The hearing for Housing Court candidate Sergio Carvajal, originally scheduled for July 14, is now planned for July 28.
Baker said he attended Mary Duff's wake Wednesday evening where he learned she had been a Republican. Her daughter, the councilor, is a Democrat.
"She went to Washington with (former Gov.) Christian Herter ... to work in the Nixon administration," Baker said, "at the same time that some other guy named Charlie Baker - who happened to be my father - went to Washington with John Volpe when Volpe went down as secretary of transportation. So I discovered that the Duff family was, in fact, a bipartisan alliance - which all by itself was pretty cool."
For Baker, it was a rare appearance before the panel that interviews and votes on his judicial nominees. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who usually presides, was at an event in Worcester around lunchtime.
A delayed start to the meeting gave councilors around 15 minutes to chat with Baker, and the topics were diverse -- generally driven by Baker's and Councilor Robert Jubinville's interest in historical tales.
Until the 1930s, the council met in the room that is now Baker's ceremonial office. Chuckling as that fact arose in conversation, Baker asked, "Wasn't it, was it James Michael Curley who made that move? Does anybody know why?"
Jubinville chimed in that the move - to smaller quarters, without the view of Boston Common that the corner office features - came when Curley "got mad at the Governor's Council" due to the actions of Councilor Daniel Coakley, a former Curley ally.
"He holds a record. He's the only guy in Massachusetts that's been disbarred, excommunicated, and impeached. He was the last person impeached in Massachusetts," Jubinville said, before elaborating with the tale of Coakley's trial in the Senate and the forged documents that helped secure a gubernatorial pardon for crime boss Raymond Patriarca.
The discussion shifted to boxer Jack Johnson, whom Baker remembered as "the original bare-knuckles champion, back in the day," before turning to the Gardner Museum art heist.
"Next time you have lunch with Councilor Jubinville, ask him about the Gardner Museum heist," called out Councilor Chris Iannella.
Baker's interest appeared piqued: "Does he know who did it?"
"He had a lot of knowledge about it. Really shocked at what he told me," Iannella said.
Written by Sam Doran/SHNS