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Keller @ Large: Why Can’t Some Public Servants Just Serve The Public?

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Michael McLaughlin walks with his attorney Feb. 19, 2013.

Michael McLaughlin walks with his attorney Feb. 19, 2013.

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – In federal court Tuesday, I noticed that disgraced former Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael McLaughlin is wearing his hair long in the back these days, almost in mullet style.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Perhaps McLaughlin – who pleaded guilty to lying about his salary in formal state and federal documents – is yearning for his salad days of the 1970’s, when he took the Fifth 71 times during a grand jury probe into the placement of relatives of reputed mobsters on the Middlesex County payroll. Or maybe the near-mullet is his homage to the 1980s, when State Police surveillance picked up a reputed Lowell bookmaker trying to help McLaughlin get hired as city manager.

Yes, Mike McLaughlin has been our local political culture’s version of Big Jule, the gambler in the musical “Guys and Dolls” who boasts of his straight-arrow record: “33 arrests and no convictions.”

And now Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and other close associates of McLaughlin’s will have to sweat out what he might be telling the feds as part of a plea deal that could keep him out of jail altogether.

We’ll see what happens. And in fairness to Murray, no law enforcement agency has yet alleged any wrongdoing by him.

But let’s take a moment to reflect on what McLaughlin copped to Tuesday.

He was making a healthy six-figure salary for his work with plenty of perks, and wasn’t exactly punching a time clock.

But eating heartily out of the public trough wasn’t enough for McLaughlin; he had to eat the whole trough, and lie about it to regulators, a career-ending decision he attributed to “the rebel in me.”

Rebel without a cause, I’d say, except his own ego.

And that’s what I don’t get about the occasional public servant who loses sight of the cause they’re supposed to be serving.

It’s not about you, it’s about the people you’re helping. Or rather, supposed to be helping.

Instead of helping yourself to yet another heaping serving of money that was supposed to help the poor.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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