Sunday, January 7, 2007

Tommy Fin

Thoma Finneran (The Boston Globe)
Massachusetts' latest man of authority turned convicted felon is the one, and only, Thomas Finneran, the former Speaker of the House on Beacon Hill. Once dubbed the most powerful man in the State House, he is now a criminal - or so one would think. It has yet to be determined if he will lose his state pension (a no-brainer for someone who lied under oath in a federal case) and it appears that he will lose his half-million dollar a year job as the head of the Massachusetts Biotech Council. So it seems that he will get what is coming to him, right? Well, thanks to the much-respected AM talk radio station WRKO (it's hard to type that with a straight face), it seems that Finneran will be able to hold a steady, well-paying job, something that most convicted felons in this country are deprived of due to their involvement with the justice system.

This, of course, begs the question: how many other convicted felons have the ability to be hired at WRKO? Many companies refuse to hire felons because of that title; it has such a stigma attached to it that many companies want nothing to do with anyone who has been convicted of a felony.

Young felons I've taught in the past were highly concerned that when they got out, they would not be able to find gainful employment due to their past indiscretions. Unfortunately, this is a legitimate concern and the cycle of crime is perpetuated by this unwillingness to hire felons. So back to the original question: would WRKO hire a felon to be a sound guy, or a security guard, or even a janitor? But because Finneran is a wealthy, powerful, white male his felony status is not a factor in his employment. In the unlikely event that WRKO is setting a precedent to hire people that other people won't (i.e. convicted felons), kudos to them. In the more likely event that they are looking to boost ratings with a "controversial" host, any iota of credibility that they may have had has been blown to hell - along with Finneran's reputation.

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