State Treasurer Deb Goldberg didn’t get her reputation for being a political pariah with the establishment by playing nice with the power brokers on Beacon Hill.
Goldberg has built a reputation at the State House — honed through her years as a Brookline selectwoman and an activist in the state Democratic party — for taking no prisoners when she feels political players are not bending to her interests.
One example that still burns: The treasurer, who chairs the state pension board, denied a pension for former speaker Thomas Finneran, a very popular State House insider. She went so far as to appeal a lower court decision that said his 2007 federal obstruction of justice conviction did not justify taking it away. She won the case.
She also sent chills through the political world when she caused a young woman working at an adoption agency nonprofit, which the treasurer chaired, to lose her job. Goldberg used her position as the state treasurer-elect — including access to state employment documents — to alert the agency that the young woman was seeking a job in the treasury’s office.
Goldberg’s problem is that the political empire is now striking back.
The biggest blow came this month when House leaders unveiled a bill that rewrites the voter-approved 2016 marijuana legalization ballot question. So far, Senate and House leaders vary drastically on proposed changes to the state’s pot law, but the two disparate bills have one big thing in common — Goldberg is sidelined.
Both the Senate and House bills would gut the treasurer’s unilateral control of the Cannabis Control Commission, denying her the ability to reign over a newly created tax-fattened bureaucracy that is expected to be rife with patronage hirings and contracts.
The House-approved legislation outlines it best. It gives the agency the power to assemble an administrative staff; contract with consultants; create a legal team and a public relations crew; and hire technical advisers, investigators, auditors, and law enforcement agents.
But it strips from the ballot law the language that gave the state treasurer full control of the commission. Instead, the treasurer, who would have headed a three-member commission, would now share power with the governor and the attorney general in a five-member commission.
Goldberg, who declined a request for an interview, didn’t help her case when the Lottery Commission, which she chairs, indicated earlier this year it might move its headquarters out of Braintree, where it has been located for decades.
The House chair of the Marijuana Policy Committee is Democrat Mark Cusack of — you guessed it — Braintree.
Frank Phillips can be reached at email@example.com.