Category Archives: Massachusetts

FROM THE SECRET FILES OF THE MASSACHUSETTS PATRONAGE DEPARTMENT, MPD, (Formerly known as the Massachusetts Probation Department)

February 14, 2010

FROM: John J. O’Brien, Commissioner

TO: James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr.

ADDRESS: Somewhere in Santa Monica, CA (for internal use only)

RE: Your application for employment


Dear Whitey:

How wonderful to receive your application for future employment in our agency, in the event you ever return to your home state. Here at the Patronage Department we receive numerous applications, but rarely from someone so highly qualified to deal with criminals, killers and thugs. O'Brien

However, as Commissioner of the Mass Patronage Department it often falls upon me to perform the most difficult and unpleasant tasks. Thus, with a heavy heart and my hands raised high in the air, I regret to inform you I must reject your application for employment at the MPD.

Please don’t take this as a personal rejection. Far from it! With two of your nephews already on the department’s payroll, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to bring another Bulger aboard. Your brother William has written to me with expressions bordering on outright bragging of your numerous talents and accomplishments—your entrepreneurial spirit, your gang leadership skills, your hair-trigger response to challenges, your managerial finesse in parceling out punishment. All skills we could easily put to good use at the MPD.

In fact, because of the many obstacles you face in returning to Massachusetts for a personal interview, I took the liberty of having a surrogate sit through your civil service exam. And I’m pleased to inform you your score was so exceptional you already outrank almost all other applicants.

But alas, I cannot offer you a job should you eventually return to Massachusetts. Ordinarily, someone like you with glowing recommendations from the F.B.I. and the Massachusetts Senate, not to mention multiple good conduct reports from the Mass Correctional System, would be a shoo-in for almost any position in the MPD. But I cannot step aside and allow you to take the Commissioner’s job, as you requested. Not even if you hold a gun to my head as you—no doubt jokingly—suggested.

And so, Whitey, I hope you won’t hold it against me that I cannot fulfill your request for suitable employment at the MPD. As for your idea of serving our department in some security capacity, I can only reply that MPD employees are not allowed to carry loaded firearms, especially in the Commonwealth’s courthouses. Another reason why I hold our prissy, pettifogging judges in such contempt.

Next thing you know they’ll be turning patronage into a crime!

And so, Whitey, I wish you great success in finding a new career path for when you ultimately return to your home state. A career path that would support any claims of personal redemption and improved moral character you might make to offset all those murder, robbery and extortion charges.

Your nephews send their love and wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!



John J. O’Brien

Commissioner and CDJ (Chief Dispenser of Jobs)

Massachusetts Patronage Department











When Mary Wed Abby

(Celebrating Six Years Of Romantic Justice)

The water is wide, I can’t cross over
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

Once, long ago, they charted different courses and followed different stars as they sailed toward their destiny and ever closer to each other. Neither knew the other would appear along the way like a treasured companion once lost and now found, nor that all of us—a church filled with friends, relatives and well-wishers—would gather to celebrate and honor this love they had shared for seventeen years.

There is a ship and she sails the sea
She’s loaded deep as deep can be
But not as deep as the love I’m in
I know not how I sink or swim

Theirs was a voyage and a love affair not embarked upon lightly. Two women whose intentions of the heart broke society’s rules of acceptable behavior with each smile and tender thought that passed between them. Now, no longer guilty of some unnameable crime, no longer forced to hide their love as if it were shameful, no longer barred from rites and privileges held high and unreachable by a world so myopic it could only recognize the most ordinary of love’s many guises, they came to our church to sanctify and solemnize their bond.

Oh, love is handsome and love is fine
The sweetest flower when first it’s new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like summer dew

How the heart overflowed to see their faces lit with joy and, yes, the nervous uncertainty of brides. How like brass horns welcoming home a host of angels did the words of the brief ceremony cut through the darkness of our separate lives to feed our hungry spirits. We were there to celebrate life and love, and to bear witness to two lives joining as one. There was no place in this centuries-old sanctuary for fears or concerns about hateful people, peevish politicians or homophobic religious groups. Such negativity could not be kept at bay indefinitely, but it would not find itself a welcome guest at this particular wedding.

The water is wide, I can’t cross over,
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

Now they are wed. The two are joined as one. And the voyages they chart, the waters they navigate, will from this day forward be mapped out on a single axis. A few short years ago, no one could have predicted we’d gather today to celebrate their marriage, in a church that has seen marriage vows exchanged hundreds of times in its 329 years. And though something profoundly different happened this morning, something also remained profoundly unchanged. So that one day, perhaps, with the sharp vision hindsight often brings, it may seem less significant that two women were married this day than that love, once again, overcame all obstacles.

Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I
And both shall row, my love and I

Copyright ©2004 Paul Steven Stone
“Water is Wide,” traditional lyrics

Next month we celebrate the sixth anniversary of legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. I wrote this commentary at that time to celebrate the wedding of two women who, after years of sharing their love on the fringes of society’s acceptance, were now allowed to step openly into the center where all God’s children belong. I am proud to live in Massachusetts where even in our imperfection we sometimes get it right. This was one of those times.