Our Opinion: Scandals hurt DCR's worthy cause in state


The state Department of Conservation and Recreation is an important agency that has not been fully staffed. That said, a couple of DCR officials plainly had too much free time on their hands.

Governor Charlie Baker indicated Wednesday that a shake-up was coming at DCR and the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) after a couple of disquieting scandals. DCR personnel officer Jared Valanzola was fired Wednesday after an internal investigation revealed that he tried to coerce an EEA staffer to dissuade her fiance from running for office against Republican state Senator Don Humanson of Westfield. EEA Chief Operating Officer Michael Valanzola resigned in connection with the problem. The Valanzolas are cousins, according to The Boston Herald.

DCR Commissioner Matthew Sisk resigned last week for using the lights and sirens of his state vehicle in an alleged attempt to get through traffic and for his part in using state resources to host a private party on the home of state Republican Party bigwig Ron Kaufman. DCR officials aren't police officers and plainly have no need for a car with flashing lights and sirens, and the governor's office will review policies determining who gets such vehicles.

Massachusetts has a long, sordid history of government officials abusing perks of office, engaging in nepotism and applying political pressure to underlings. Both Democrats and Republicans have been guilty, and these bipartisan abuses require constant vigilance to prevent or root out.

Among the DCR's duties is maintenance of state parks, including the large parks out west it does not have the funding to do justice by. The governor was right in noting that the majority of DCR workers shouldn't be tarred by the scandals, but that won't help the cause at budget time.


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