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Campaign attack may come back to haunt Steve Grossman

Campaign attack may come back to haunt Grossman

What goes around comes around — an adage that best describes state Treasurer Steve Grossman’s search for a new career.

Grossman has set his eyes on the presidency of Suffolk University, but his quest is getting caught in some classic Boston payback. It goes back to his gubernatorial campaign, namely a decision to put a popular former state senator-turned-lobbyist, Jack Brennan, in the center of his attack on Martha Coakley.

Last August, Grossman, badly trailing front-runner Coakley in the Democratic primary, was grasping for some issues to knock the attorney general off her perch. He launched some blistering attacks based on the controversial agreement Coakley signed with Brennan’s firm over the claims that it improperly charged $370,000 in lobbying fees to a children’s hospital. The settlement, which critics called too lenient, required Brennan’s firm to return $100,000 of the fees to the institution.

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Grossman claimed the settlement was “Beacon Hill at its worst” and referred to Brennan as a “well connected lobbyist . . . who was allowed to walk, laughing all the way to the bank.’’

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If only he could have looked ahead. Brennan sits on the Suffolk board of trustees. He will step down in January before any decision on filling the president’s post but has friends on the board.

Neither Brennan nor Grossman would comment on the issue. A person well versed on the board’s deliberations confirmed that there is a pocket of ill-will that Grossman will have to surmount. But he is not without some significant support, including an influential board member, Roger S. Berkowitz, the Legal Sea Foods magnate.

Frank Phillips

FRANK PHILLIPS

Baker helps a R.I. Democrat

There is a lot separating Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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The Bay State economy is in pretty good shape, the Ocean State economy not so much. The Pawtucket Red Sox won a championship this year. The parent club up the road? Well, we’d all prefer to forget.

But for all that divides the two states, our governors-elect may be at the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Sure, Massachusetts’ executive-in-waiting, Charlie Baker, is a Republican. And Gina Raimondo, who will occupy the corner office in Rhode Island, is a Democrat.

But campaign finance records show Baker gave $1,000 to Raimondo last year — months before, his aides are quick to point out, she won the Democratic primary and went on to face Republican Allan Fung in the general election.

The governors-elect, who hope to attend each other’s inaugurations, have plenty in common. Both went to Harvard University. And both speak money. Raimondo started her state’s first venture capital firm. Baker worked for a VC firm himself, General Catalyst.

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For Baker, that biographical detail was less than helpful on the campaign trail. Democrats tried to connect his donation to the New Jersey Republican Party with a New Jersey pension fund investment in General Catalyst, alleging “pay-to-play.”

Raimondo got a bit more mileage out of her work as a financier — namely a campaign advertisement touting an investment in iconic brewer Narragansett. But her venture days, combined with her work on pension reform, did leave critics calling her a tool of Wall Street.

Perhaps the governors-elect, who met through mutual friends at General Catalyst, can commiserate at a beer summit.

David Scharfenberg

DAVID SCHARFENBERG

A Christmastime lament

It doesn’t quite feel like the holidays this year without hearing Scott Harshbarger and Joe Malone singing “Jingle Bells” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

The former attorney general and ex-state treasurer are among the casualties of the new Fox 25 format, whose new management gave the commentators the ax. For eight years, Harshbarger and Malone did a weekly political segment known as “Monday Morning Quarterbacks.”

Their shtick: Harshbarger is the Democrat, Malone was a Republican (and more recently an independent), but while they come from different sides of the aisle, they often found common political ground. “It was our chance to be relevant,” said Harshbarger who, like Malone, ran unsuccessfully for governor.

Viewers also soon found out they like to croon and would often break into song. Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra were other favorites.

When Malone took a break from the show to work on Jeff McCormick’s gubernatorial campaign, Republican political operative Rob Gray was his fill-in. Harshbarger tried to bait him into carrying a tune. Gray didn’t bite.

“The least I can do for the viewers is to spare them from my singing,” said Gray.

Shirley Leung

SHIRLEY LEUNG

A bundle for Wu

Blaise Francis Pewarski, son of City Councilor Michelle Wu and her husband,Conor Pewarski.
Blaise Francis Pewarski, son of City Councilor Michelle Wu and her husband, Conor Pewarski.

Blaise Francis Pewarski arrived on time this week, after a massive rainstorm. And he made history as the first child ever born to a sitting female Boston city councilor.

He is the son of Councilor Michelle Wu and her husband, Conor Pewarski.

Blaise was born at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces and was 20 inches long.

“This is the first in the history of the Boston City Council,’’ said City Clerk Maureen Feeney, a former councilor and council president. “It speaks to the new generation of people who have joined public service.”

Elected city officials do not get maternity leave — or set sick time or vacation days. They can take time off for personal needs, as their schedules allow, city officials say.

Wu gave birth after 30 hours in labor and was working right up until she went to the hospital, said her spokeswoman Julia Leja.

She will not take any time off, although she will scale back her attendance at public events. She will still be in close contact with her staff and colleagues and will perform her duties effectively, Leja added. “While Blaise is the councilor’s first child, she’s no stranger to balancing work and family,’’ the spokeswoman said.

Meghan E. Irons

MEGHAN E. IRONS

A difficult read

A new book from a pair of local media personalities explores the Boston Marathon bombings and what unfolded in the days after, in sometimes startling and excruciating detail.

True crime author Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge, a former Boston Herald reporter now working on the Olympics bid for Northwind Strategies, co-wrote “Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph Over Tragedy,” a 253-page account of the bombings and the personalities involved.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh contributed the foreword, cautioning that “[t]he stories that unfold in the pages ahead may at times be difficult to read,” but saying the reaction to the bombings “revealed the indomitable spirit of Boston and America.”

Jim O’Sullivan

JIM O’SULLIVAN

Hair talk with Hillary

Hannah Grove, State Street Corp.’s chief marketing officer, dared to go there with Hillary Rodham Clinton — and got her talking about her hair.

No, the former first lady and secretary of state did not wear her (in)famous headband when she spoke at the Massachusetts Conference of
Women last week. Rather, Grove wanted to know how Clinton dealt with criticism over
the years, including public critiques of her hairstyles.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt, where she said, ‘If a woman wants to be in the public arena, she should grow skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros,’ ” said Clinton. “For me, learning how to take criticism seriously, where appropriate, but not personally, has been a great lesson.”

Since State Street was the lead sponsor of the conference, Grove got to interview her on stage after her speech — and Clinton got in one more hair reference, as she explained that being president is stressful, and he (or she) needs a support group.

“The job is unforgiving in many ways,” said Clinton. “Therefore you need people around you who will kid you, who make fun of you. I have no shortage of such people in my own life.”

Clinton said she can always count on a close friend from the sixth grade.

“She’s tired of explaining that I could never do my hair. It is not a new failure on my part,” said Clinton. “When I was in sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, I was equally inept.”

Shirley Leung

SHIRLEY LEUNG