Now here’s an outrage that shouldn’t get lost during the coronavirus crisis: earlier this month, the state retirement board decided that 14 former Massachusetts State Troopers accused of overtime fraud will get to keep their pensions.
The allegations against the troopers had been sustained by the department internal investigation. Dozens of current and former troopers are caught up in the scandal, which involved bilking taxpayers for hours the officers didn’t work.
But the retirement board said its hands were tied. Because the troopers hadn’t been convicted of a crime, it had no grounds to deny them their pensions.
And that just revives the question of why Attorney General Maura Healey’s office didn’t pursue more charges as a result of the investigation.
It’s not the only story that shouldn’t get overlooked during the outbreak:
* New thinking on streets. The MassDOT board, meeting Monday by video conference, approved a $26 million redesign of Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians and to slow traffic. It’s part of a broader, much-needed effort to update Boston’s streets to move away from a car-first mentality and consider the needs of other users.
* Mike Bloomberg’s parting gift. Normally, a donor couldn’t just give $18 million to a political party without running afoul of campaign finance laws. But Mike Bloomberg found a loophole that allowed him to do essentially just that. The billionaire former New York City mayor self-financed his presidential campaign; now that his campaign is over, he’s transferring the campaign’s assets to the Democratic National Committee. It’s all apparently legal. Good for Bloomberg for wanting to take the fight to Trump, but the transfer certainly ignores the spirit of campaign finance limits.
* Afghan dysfunction. The United States canceled $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan on Monday, ostensibly because the country hasn’t settled its internal political differences. Considering the president’s past willingness to condition US aid on foreign leaders doing personal favors for him, it’s hard to take the explanation at face value. And coming just after the United States signed a peace treaty with the Taliban, it points to the continuing challenges that threaten the Trump administration’s stated plan to withdraw from Afghanistan.