MA Governor Re-Shuffles Cabinet

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced nearly half of his cabinet is leaving, including embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Judy Ann Bigby and Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan. 

The governor hopes this announcement will put behind him some of the biggest controversies of his administration: evidence tampering at a Department of Public Health drug lab.  A deadly meningitis outbreak linked to a state-regulated pharmacy in Framingham. And the hiring of Sheila Burgess, who had a terrible driving record, to the post of state Highway Safety Chief. But at the press conference, Patrick denied Bigby and Heffernan’s departure had to do with scandal:
“There’s always going to be news.  Some of it real, some of it concocted.  But there’s always going to be news.”

Patrick suggested problems at the drug lab and compounding pharmacy were almost inevitable: 

“There are going to be in large organizations things that go wrong.”

As for the Sheila Burgess scandal…

“It’s an embarrassment, that’s it.”

The shakeup is somewhat routine. Patrick says when he was re-elected in 2010, he asked cabinet members for a two year commitment and it’s been two years: 

“I said we would go through with everyone at the end of two years. We started that conversation well before some of the headlines you’re all talking about.”

Bigby and Heffernan disappeared immediately after the governor spoke, even though they were supposed to stay to answer questions.

But Bigby’s replacement, John Polanowitz, says he hopes to learn from past mistakes:

“So at this point right now, it’s taking a lesson from what was found in the drug lab and ensuring that in any of the other areas that I’m responsible for, that we’ve taken a look at the system and processes and we’ve addressed those.”

Other cabinet members who are leaving include budget Chief Jay Gonzalez and Secretary of Education Paul Reveille.