Saturday, January 30, 2010

The LuLac Edition #1083, Jan. 30th, 2010



This past week State Senator Ray Musto retired from public life. I talked with a former staffer of his who served on his team when Mr. Musto was in Congress. Here’s what he said:
Q: How’d you get the job?
A: I was at Georgetown and applied. Hiring a local kid who knew the town seemed to be one of the things that got me the job.
Q: Impressive surroundings?
A: No, Ray was a Freshman member but well thought of. But we were in a little office with a whole bunch of Selectric's (editor’s note: typewriters) and tables.
Q: What was your job?
A: We answered and wrote constituent letters.
Q: All the time?
A: Constantly. Mr. Musto was big on getting back to his people. It didn’t matter what party, what town, he really, really took it seriously.
Q: Were they form letters?
A: To the degree that there was a formula but the body of the letter was vintage Ray.
Q: Did you just crank them out all the time?
A: No, Ray always saw most of them and sometimes we’d get them back to re-write if a fact was wrong, a name or town was incorrect or if there wasn’t a reference he wanted. He had one person dedicated to answering questions on black lung. That's all that person did all day long.
Q: Do you think he was a good Congressman?
A: I think he didn’t have the time to be a good one. I mean a great one. He was more active than some guys were and those guys were there for years. But he was running a campaign, running an office, trying to learn the job and be on the floor.
Q: If he had not lost would you still be with him?
A: Certainly.
Q: Where did you go after?
A: Musto recommended me for a job at the Pentagon. I was hired January 19, 1981, a day before Reagan froze all new federal appointments.
Q: Did you ever give him money in exchange for that recommendation? I mean did you ever contribute to his campaign?
A: No. He just asked me what I was going to do and I told him I was applying there. He gave me a nice letter.
Q: That start date was pretty unique the day before the hiring freeze. Do you think Ray knew about that?
A: Possibly. It was surreal, here’s a man who lost an election, gave up a safe seat to go to Washington and his only concern was getting jobs for his staff, even low level idiots like me.
Q: You’re being pretty hard on yourself there.
A: (Laughing), we’re all idiots but to be a low level idiot takes some doing.
Q: Ray was a pretty good judge of staff over the years. Did anything get past him?
A: Not really. Although I think it surprised him that I was a Republican after he wrote out my letter of recommendation.
Q: What was his reaction?
A: "If being a Republican and getting a letter from me doesn’t get you in the Pentagon," he said, "then nothing will." He said maybe he should leave it for Nelligan. (editor note: Musto's successor and victor in the 1980 race).
Q: Do you think it (your affiliation) would have mattered?
A: No, Ray was totally politically color blind. He never saw the party, but the person.
Q: Lucky for you.
A: And lucky for his constituents.


At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JD Salinger died last week. Did any other book hit a couple of generations of kids the way that the Catcher in the Rye did? I've gone back and read it as an adult and believe it a book best read as a teenager to be understood, just as Catch 22 should be read
immediately following discharge from the Army for greatest understanding!
Old JD wanted privacy and now he has it, but he damn sure left his mark. I always wondered what became of Holden Caulfield.


At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about interviewing Lyndall Stout folks would like to know what she is doing now and if she would go back to WBRE if she was able to. Let her know viewers want her back.


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