Pols turn out in force to honor Crane

Former Attorney General Frank Bellotti, former Treasurer John Driscoll and former Gov. Michael Dukakis were among the dignitaries who honored former Treasurer Robert Crane (center). [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 28, 2016….More than a century of experience in top statewide elected positions assembled in the treasurer’s office Tuesday to bestow honors on longtime Treasurer Robert Crane, credited with creating the State Lottery during his 26 years at the post.

“Bob Crane is a bookie,” quipped William Bulger, president of the Senate from 1978 to 1996, who also led the room in the bygone Bay State political tradition of spontaneous song.

The ceremony for the 90-year-old seated in a wheelchair at the front of Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s office even drew Red Sox great catcher Carl Yastrzemski, whose wife worked for Crane, according to the treasurer’s office.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said a plaque and photograph would be placed in a newly renovated conference room, dedicated in Crane’s honor, in the Treasury offices at One Ashburton Place.

John Driscoll, who stepped down in 1964 to become chairman of the Turnpike Authority, reflected on the opening he had given Crane, a Boston Democrat appointed and later elected that year with 1.39 million votes after winning a four-way primary.

“I made one hell of a mistake. I gave up the treasurer’s office,” Driscoll said to roars of laughter.

“You wouldn’t have liked it that much,” Crane replied. He said he and Driscoll went to high school and Boston College together.

Attorney Bob Popeo, chairman of Mintz Levin, walked to the front of the room with one of his most high-profile clients, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who employed the attorney during the 2014 federal trial of former probation department officials.

“I have one simple rule on representing clients. They must be innocent. That’s why so many of you in this room have called me,” Popeo said to laughs. Popeo told the News Service he represented Crane when the then-sitting treasurer was the target of state and federal grand jury investigations, which did not lead to any charges.

“It was a particularly onerous and challenging job because they wanted Bob so badly,” Popeo told the crowd. He said, “Bob never whined. Bob never complained. Bob never took pity on himself.”

Goldberg grew up around the former elected officials who visited her office for the event. She told the News Service she was Michael Dukakis’s “mascot” when he ran for state representative.

“I grew up calling them Frank, Bill and Bob,” Goldberg said, referring to Crane, Bulger and former Attorney General Frank Bellotti, who also attended the event.

Goldberg, who was elected in 2014, put her father Avram on the phone to talk to Crane, who told him, “Your daughter is a great reflection of the good you and your wife have done to the community all these years.”

“You and I go back so far that people can figure out we’re a couple of ancients,” the treasurer’s father told Crane.

First Deputy Treasurer James MacDonald told the News Service he started in the Treasury 43 years ago as a summer job, working for Cran

Secretary of State William Galvin was also in the room. The Brighton Democrat is currently the longest-serving statewide elected officeholder. In 1989 Crane announced he would not run for an additional term. In 1990, Galvin, then a state representative, beat House Speaker Robert Keverian in the state treasurer primary before losing to Republican Joe Malone in the general. Four years later Galvin was elected to the post he has held for more than 20 years.

DeLeo, who now holds as much sway as anyone in the area of state policy, recalled earlier days on the campaign trail, when he arrived at a senior center with a fruit basked only to be bigfooted by Crane.

“He walked in and they didn’t even know me,” DeLeo said. He joked, “It’s affected me my whole life.”

Bulger, the longest-serving Senate president, also dispensed with some political advice he said he had picked up from Crane.

“I learned something from Bob Crane. Election time, never talk issues. Sing a song,” Bulger said. He said, “Show me a candidate who talks issues. I’ll show you a candidate who won’t be back.”

Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr and State Auditor Suzanne Bump were among the other attendees at the event.

Copyright 2016 State House News Service

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