Recently indicted Teamsters boss George W. Cashman abandoned his plum Mass. Port Auth. Bd. post Jan. 22, sparing acting Gov. Jane Swift (R) from embarrassing political standoff. Cashman, a Democrat and an ally to the last three Republican governors, fired off a terse resignation letter just ten minutes before Swift promised he’d be suspended from MPA Bd., the agency that operates Logan Int’l Airport where two planes that terrorists used to destroy the World Trade Ctr. originated. Eager to fend off an appearance of guilt, the president of the Charlestown-based Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25, promised to beat the “unfounded” federal indictment. Federal prosecutors charged Cashman Jan. 16 along with three others in a 179-count indictment alleging a scheme to illegally give union health benefits to 19 non-union workers.
A clearly relieved Swift, who gave Cashman a 5:00 P.M. deadline to quit or face immediate suspension, emerged from her office and praised Cashman for “doing the right thing.” Even before Cashman had a chance to plead innocent, Swift promised to remove him from the board. Aides said the governor had no contact with Cashman and that his attorneys kept her waiting all day before phoning Swift legal counsel Steve Pierce to offer the resignation. Cashman followed a two-sentence resignation letter on Teamsters stationery with a longer statement promising to fight the federal charges.
In terms of the MPA Bd.’s operation, Cashman’s resignation likely will have no effect 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 ten of twelve monthly board meetings.
Swift promised to move quickly to replace Cashman, but she acknowledged she is hamstrung by a state law requiring her to appoint someone from a union that does business with the patronage laden MPA. That requirement flies in the face of a key recommendation from her own MPA reform commission. Under the MPA statutes, one slot must be reserved for a member of a “bona fide . . . national or international labor organization . . . directly and continually related to the scope of activities of the authority.” Swift said that rule prevents her from stretching beyond the handful of unions that work directly at MPA, including the Teamsters and Longshoreman. The reform comm’n said the slot should be given to a labor leader without MPA conflicts. [Boston Herald; Boston Globe 1/23/02]