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August 26, 2005

The sad tale of a lazy hack

Nancy McGillivray had been US Marshal for the District of Massachusetts in charge of security for the Mass. federal courts since 1994, and had been with the Marshals Service for 24 years.  Seems like reappointment would have been in order when her term was set to expire in 2002.

But George W. Bush would have none of it.  Bush's friend Paul Cellucci, upon whom he had recently conferred the Ambassadorship to Canada, had recommended replacing McGillivray with his loyal head of security, State Trooper Anthony Dichio (and what do we have as a parting gift, Vanna?).  Senators Kerry and Kennedy, and most of the congressional delegation, objected, but to no avail (they're Democrats, after all).  Then 9/11 happened, and Kerry and Kennedy, joined by A.G. Tom Reilly, ratcheted up the pressure on then-Acting Governor Jane Swift, urging that Dichio was not the right man for the job (among other things, he had no experience dealing with terrorism-related threats), and that in light of the increased need to focus on security around federal courts, installing a patronage appointment like Dichio was a particularly bad idea, so Swift should withdraw her support.

No luck.  Swift stood by Dichio, Bush nominated him, and he was ultimately confirmed.

Dichio_1 After assuming his new office, Dichio gave an interview in which he said all the right things: "There are a lot of security issues that need to be addressed, especially in the wake of September 11.... I am saying that safety and security are my top priorities.... It's a huge responsibility, and I look forward to the challenge this job will bring."

Dichio2 Part of the "challenge," apparently, was finding the time to take care of those pesky errands like grocery shopping - you know how much less crowded the aisles are if you go during the middle of the day?  Two Boston Globe reporters tailed Dichio for 10 days back in September and October and found that he rarely if ever put in a full 8 hour workday - his average was 4 hours and 22 minutes, and he scored a goose-egg on a couple of them - even though his time sheets showed 8 hours each day.  The article, featuring a photo of Dichio loading the back of his government-issued SUV with groceries in the middle of a weekday afternoon, was devastating, and an investigation commenced.

Well, as the Globe reports today, the results are in.  The Inspector General of the Justice Department has concluded that Dichio broke the law by not working full days and using his official car for personal business, and that he should be disciplined, "including consideration of whether he should remain as US Marshal."  Particularly amusing are Dichio's lame-ass excuses for his chronic inability to show up for work.  They're in the article, and there's really no clever comment I can add that will make them seem more pathetic than they are.

Apparently, the Inspector General's report is "under review" at the Justice Department.  President Bush will have to sign off on any discipline, since Dichio is a presidential appointee.

What an appalling saga of hackery run amok.  Kudos to the Globe for exposing it.  Obviously, this guy was never the right person for this important job, and we're very fortunate that, so far, his lackadaisical approach to his post hasn't resulted in a major incident in Massachusetts (maybe it's been a blessing in disguise - I love the comment in today's Globe article that "one manager was quoted as saying that the operation ran more smoothly with Dichio out of the office").  Patronage, unpleasant as it is, will never be eliminated, but this ought to be a cautionary tale to those politicians who would place personal loyalty above national security.  (*cough* George Bush *cough* Karl Rove *cough*)

Posted by David at 12:06 AM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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This story like most stories about this Tammany Hall / Bush Administration will have no legs. This guy will be quietly pensioned off and a more qualified individual will just as quietly take his place. The mere idea that this former driver for the Governor was even remotely qualified for a terrorist czar position is just laughable.

Posted by: Marty 13 | Aug 26, 2005 8:40:35 AM

It seems to me that this guy has the same work ethic as George Bush. He will probably be awarded a bicycle and the Medal of Freedom.

Posted by: Gus | Aug 26, 2005 9:05:17 AM

But nobody put personal loyalty above national security... weren't you paying attention during the 2004 campaign? Massachusetts is not part of the United States of America. It is certainly not one of the states George W governs...

Posted by: Massachusetts Liberal | Aug 26, 2005 9:07:34 AM

David-what do you know about security? Get your facts right. If you did your homework Nancy Mcgillvray was an embarrasement to the agency.

Posted by: carl | Aug 26, 2005 2:37:01 PM

Carl, if you have any sources or other basis for your statement, I'd be delighted to see them. Otherwise, spare me the unfounded attacks. In any event, no one ever caught her filling her government SUV with groceries on a workday afternoon.

Posted by: David | Aug 26, 2005 5:14:09 PM

McGillivray was a worse appointee than this guy could ever be. She stormed throughout Mass. threatening employees who spoke out against her appointment and threatened to fire or discipline anyone who supported anyone but her. She just a hack of an uglier color.

Posted by: ICUSML | Aug 26, 2005 6:42:18 PM

Why did it take an article, complete with photos, from the Boston Globe to get an investigation going? Where was the senior "career" manager for the district William Fallon? He owed Dichio for allowing him to come home from Oregon and paid him by his silence. Justice and Marshals Service rules say that anyone who knows about misconduct is to report it -- period! He didn't. Dichio's fired, and Fallon's now in charge. After 9-11 there was a lot of talk about the "culture" in the FBI that hindered investigations. Guess what, there's a "culture" in the Marshals too that rewards people who keep their mouth shut about misconduct and abuses of power, and punishes those who don't. The Marshals have a culture of, "Do what I do, not what I say." If something goes wrong and someone's caught, the Marshals limit the problem to as few people as possible (hopfully not friends or supporters) and serve them up on as a sacraficial offering making sure that they will come out ahead with a promotion and a grade increase.

Posted by: Insider | Sep 22, 2005 9:22:52 AM

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