Cashman resigns from Massport
Swift Can Now Name Her Choice For Board
By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, Globe Correspondent,
Acting Governor Jane Swift yesterday gained the chance to make an election-year appointment of a union official to the Massport board of directors with the resignation of board member George Cashman, who was indicted on federal charges last week.
Cashman, 53, the leader of Teamsters Union Local 25, submitted a letter of resignation late yesterday afternoon after extensive negotiations between his lawyer and Steven Pierce, the governor's general counsel.
For five days Cashman had been under pressure from Swift to resign, following his indictment on charges of embezzlement for allegedly diverting health care benefits to union truck drivers who did not work enough hours to qualify for them.
“I am glad that Mr. Cashman has offered his resignation, and obviously I accept it,” said Swift, who had threatened to fire Cashman if he did not step down.
Swift, in announcing Cashman's resignation, said she is committed to replacing him with someone who would help restore confidence in Massport, which came under intense criticism as a patronage haven following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Two of the four terrorist hijackings occurred on flights that left Logan. The planes were flown into the World Trade Center.
“There's a lot of work to be done at Massport to regain the public's confidence, to regain the credibility of the institution of Massport and Logan airport as a facility, and this allows us to move forward,” she told reporters.
Through his attorney, Cashman issued a statement saying he wants “to make sure Massport aggressively continues the important task ahead of it: to address the security and budget issues that have arisen out of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
Cashman's replacement must be both a Democrat and a union official, according to Massport's charter. Cashman, a Democrat, was first appointed to Massport by Governor William Weld, a Republican, as a reward for his political support. He was reappointed by Governor Paul Cellucci, also a Republican, for the same reason.
The charter creating Massport in the 1950s requires a 4-3 split on party affiliation on the seven-member board, and reserves one seat for a union official with an association to Massport, which also operates the Port of Boston and the Tobin Bridge. With Cashman's departure, there are now two Democrats on the board.
A special commission appointed by Swift to investigate Massport following the terrorist attacks recommended “an end to the patronage culture” at Massport, including in the appointment of directors.
That commission, headed by Marshall Carter, a retired CEO of State Street Bank, also recommended that the labor representative to the board not have business connections to Massport, to avoid a conflict of interest. Cashman's union represents 500 Massport workers and another 500 workers who work for companies located at Massport facilities.
Swift declined comment on a replacement. Her spokesman, James Borghesani, when asked about using the appointment to advance Swift's campaign prospects, said “we intend to appoint an appropriate person.”
Appointing a union representative from the airline pilots association or a law enforcement agency was raised as one possibility by state officials familiar with Massport operations.
Borghesani said Swift will introduce legislation to alter the Massport charter to comform with the Carter Commission recommendations.
Swift, who was spared further distraction by Cashman's resignation, offered Cashman no concessions, according to Borghesani.
Swift is also fighting to oust two members of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority over their opposition to raising tolls.
Swift later this year will have the opportunity to appoint a new Massport chairman, following the expiration of the term of the current chairman, Mark E. Robinson. Swift has indicated she will not reappoint Robinson, a member of a downtown law firm and a Weld protege. Carter has recommended that board members serve only single terms.
In terms of the board's operation, Cashman's resignation likely will have no affect because he has been a virtual board no-show since the summer of 2000, when his name first publicly surfaced in connection with a federal investigation.
Prior to Sept. 11, he missed 10 of 12 monthly board meetings.
Cashman, in the statement issued by attorney John Pappalardo, said his “paramount concern” was to the 9,000 members of Local 25 “who have been loyal to my leadership.”
He said he also intends “to devote my energies to fighting the unfounded allegations lodged against me, which I will aggressively confront.”
Globe correspondent Chris Tangney contributed to this article.
Sean P. Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.