This is the beginning of the Boston Globe’s front page story about an investigator’s report on the conduct of Patricia Campatelli, the Suffolk County (in Boston, Mass.) Register of Probate, an elected position:
“Patricia Campatelli often worked only 15 hours a week at her $122,500-a-year job as Suffolk County register of probate, and she spent much of that time taking “numerous smoking breaks, scratching lottery tickets, looking at East Boston real estate on the Internet, and filling out puzzles,” according to employees quoted in a confidential report obtained by the Globe.
Even before the embattled Campatelli was accused of punching an employee in the face…”
The rest of the story didn’t make coffee come out my nose like the last part, but it was pretty jaw-dropping nonetheless. Campatelli, who is clearly a piece of work, is currently on administrative leave and denies everything in the report, despite the statements of virtually everyone who works with her that were provided to the court-appointed investigator Ronald P. Corbett, Jr. Corbett’s report has been forwarded to a committee of the Supreme Judicial Court for possible disciplinary action.
Yes, that’s right—possible disciplinary action. Campatelli is on paid administrative leave, and her defiant defense boils down to “you can’t touch me.” The rest of the article, which is funnier than most Onion spoofs, is full of amazing things, including this comment by Corbett, who, after detailing alleged incidents of Campatelli engaging in sexual harassment, drunkenness, verbal abuse of subordinates, arbitrary punishment, intimidation, workplace vulgarity, multiple 30 minute “smoke breaks” per day and the assault, which occurred after heavy drinking at two bars, all by a state employee who never learned the basic duties of her job and only came to work three says a week, and then only to goof off and leave early, said that Campatelli showed “poor judgment” by drinking so much at a Christmas party and “a fundamental inability to understand that, as the Suffolk County Register of Probate, she should be a dignified figure at a public party involving her staff rather than a drinking companion.”
This story came to my attention shortly before this one, breaking new evidence—I should say more evidence—that D.C. Boston Globe is as corrupt as his City Council. These stories can seem amusing in a mordant way, but we should not laugh too long. Government corruption is a disease that spreads rapidly and destroys the public’s faith in all aspects of the system, leading to cynicism, contempt, crime, and cultural rot. It is the product of arrogant predators who use government service as an opportunity to lie, cheat and steal their way to power and wealth, and whole nations, like Mexico and the Ukraine, and whole continents, like Africa, have been savaged to the point of hopelessness once the disease becomes chronic.
An unethical register of probate seems like a trivial matter, but it is not. The illness is here, thriving in our cities and states, nourished by a national government that rejects the concept of accountability. We laugh at our peril, but the real response that endangers us is the shrug. In Maryland, for example, Tiffany Alston is running for her old seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. She lost it when she was convicted of theft and corruption, but she knows that too many Americans will keep voting for certified con-artists and scammers, using a well-worn assortment of rationalizations: “anyone can make a mistake,” “she deserves a second chance,” “this country believes in redemption,” and “I like what she stands for.”
Those who betray the public trust should look for their second chances elsewhere. If the United States descends into the kind of crippling, culturally accepted corruption that is the norm in most of the world, it will be the irresponsible public, not the corrupt officials, that will deserve the blame.
Graphic: Boston Globe