June 25, 2024

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One Strike? The Parallel Incidents of Ron Bell and Timothy Murray

One Strike?
The Parallel Incidents of Ron Bell and Timothy Murray
Ron Bell 1 Strike
(user submitted to the Blackstonian)

As the Globe continues their coverage on the recently-passed “Three Strikes” legislation, and as the reports continue to change on Lt. Governor Timothy Murray’s accident last November, another public official, while driving through Brookline last October was racially profiled, jailed, charged with an OUI and subsequently convicted by the media.

Ron Bell, a senior advisor to Governor Deval Patrick, was followed and stopped by local police while driving through Brookline at 3:00 a.m. on October 1, 2011. In April of 2011, Bell suffered a major heart attack and had two heart surgeries to correct the condition. As a part of his treatment, he was prescribed various medications that exacerbated a previously-existing case of gout and affected his ability to walk. This affliction was assumed by local police to have been the effects of alcohol and, since Bell refused a breathalyser test, he was charged guilty of drinking and driving. He was incarcerated in Brookline for a few hours and released on bail. His case has subsequently been heard twice in the Brookline court, and both times has been continued at the request of the prosecution. Following Bell’s arrest and the consequent stories in the media, Governor Patrick stated that he was taking Bell’s case “very seriously,” and put him on an indefinite unpaid leave pending its resolution.

Approximately one month later on November 2nd, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray was also driving in the early morning hours on I-190 near his home in Worcester. At different times, Murray claimed that he was looking to buy coffee and a newspaper at a 24-hour convenience store and surveying the damage caused by a recent storm. His car, an unmarked state vehicle, hit a side wall, rolled over and was totaled. State troopers who investigated the scene claimed that the Lt. Governor’s car had slid on a patch of black ice. As questions remained around the exact circumstances of the accident, the Lt. Governor called for analysis of the car’s black box. When the results came back, however, they revealed that the Lt. Gov had been driving at a speed of nearly 100 miles an hour, not wearing his seat belt and there was no black ice. Current media speculation includes whether he fell asleep at the wheel or whether the accident had some other cause.
Only a few days before the Lt. Gov’s accident, the Globe had published several stories linking him to the disgraced former director of the Chelsea Housing Authority, Michael E. McLaughlin, and detailing the Lt. Governor’s apparent sponsorship of Mr. McLaughlin’s son to a no-show state job.

Thus far, the Lt. Governor has not been subject to public reprimand, nor has Governor Patrick expressed any doubts about the details of his accident or the veracity of his story.

When the story about Ron Bell broke in early October, it was accompanied by somewhat lurid journalistic shots of Bell, with fairly sensational headlines to match. Both local and national media coverage left much doubt about Bell’s presumed guilt.
But guilty of what? Bell was arrested for driving over the speed limit and under the influence. At the same time, the Lieutenant Governor’s changing story and the circumstances surrounding it raise some very disturbing questions about the disparity of treatment between two officials within the Patrick administration.

One man was protected and defended by the attending officers, the other was summarily arrested, threatened and jailed.
A simple case of racism, it would seem. But the “boss” in this instance also happens to be African-American, as does his Chief of Staff. A more plausible explanation could be that Patrick is protecting his legacy, since Murray has been seen as a likely successor for the Governor’s job.

Whatever the reason, the case of Ron Bell continues unresolved, and he continues to be without income but with the restrictions of public employment… while at the same time, the Lt. Governor has hired a crisis communications advisor to manage his case.

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  1. Pauline Bilsky

    Congratulations to The Blackstonian and shame on the Globe and the Herald for not picking up on the glaringly inconsistent treatment of Ron Bell and Timothy Murray.

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