BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) — Gov. Deval Patrick's administration will have a different look heading into his final two years in office.
At a 1 p.m. news conference, Patrick announced the departure of four cabinet secretaries and their replacements.
The changes come as the administration grapples with several thorny issues, notably an estimated $540 million tax revenue shortfall and a drug testing scandal in a former state lab that threatens to unravel thousands of criminal cases.
Leaving their posts will be Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez; Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby; Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan; and Education Secretary Paul Reville.
John Polanowicz, president of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Boston, will replace Bigby in running the largest cabinet department in state government with an annual budget of about $8.6 billion.
Among the agencies overseen by Bigby is the state Department of Public Health, which has been at the center of the drug lab crisis. Annie Dookhan, a former chemist at the lab, has been accused of manipulating drug tests involving 34,000 individuals over a nine-year period.
The agency also has come under scrutiny in the wake of a deadly nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a steroid produced by Framingham. Mass.-based New England Compounding Center. The company was regulated by the state Board of Pharmacy.
House Republicans had recently called for Bigby's resignation, citing what they called "poor management" of the crises. But Patrick responded by expressing his full confidence in Bigby, a Harvard Medical School professor who was named to the cabinet post in 2007.
Gonzalez, the governor's top budget aide, will be replaced by Glen Shor, head of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority. The agency oversees the state's universal health care law, which served as a model for President Barack Obama's national health care law.
Gonzalez appeared with Patrick a week ago to announce that the state was revising downward its revenue projection after several months of lower-than-expected tax collections. The administration ordered $225 million in cuts in the executive branch and asked lawmakers to approve similar cuts in other areas of government.
Shor will also have the task of helping shepherd through the Legislature the governor's fiscal 2014 budget, which must be submitted next month.Heffernan, who became public safety secretary in 2010, will be replaced by Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral. The state's first female sheriff, Cabral was named by then-acting Gov. Jane Swift to fill the vacant post in 2002. She was elected in her own right in 2004 and re-elected in 2010.
Cabral has been praised for reforming the patronage-riddled sheriff's department, though her tenure has not been without controversy. She was the subject of a two-year federal investigation into whether she misled a grand jury looking into the firing of a nurse who had reportedly told the FBI about the alleged abuse of a county inmate.
No charges were brought and Cabral later complained of unfair tactics by federal prosecutors.
Patrick will name an interim successor to Cabral as sheriff until a special election is held.
Documents released by the Patrick administration last week raised questions about Heffernan's role in the 2007 hiring of former highway safety director Sheila Burgess, who resigned last month after reports of her own spotty driving record. Heffernan was listed in Burgess' job application as having referred her for the job, and a spokesman said Heffernan, who was an undersecretary at the time, conducted an "informational interview" with Burgess.
Matthew Malone, the current superintendent of Brockton schools, will replace Paul Reville. Malone's tenure in Brockton has been a rocky one. In November the Brockton School Committee said it would end it's $1 million contract with Malone a year early.
According to the Boston Globe, the committee gave Malone a composite review score of 2.77 out of 5 for his third year at the helm of the district.
The Globe also reported that the committee criticized Malone for a lack of communication skills.
Brockton Mayor Linda M. Balzotti, who is also Chairman of the school committee, commented on Malone's appointment to FOX 25 on Thursday afternoon.
"His being selected is a testament to his hard work and commitment to children, and I think it is also a tribute to the city because all the work that's been done in our school system is clearly being recognized at a much higher level," said Mayor Linda M. Balzotti. "I wish Matt well. The success of the students of Brockton has always been at the top of his agenda and I know that that commitment will translate to all of the children of the Commonwealth."
Among the six members of Patrick's cabinet who appear to have committed for the final two years include Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey, who is expected to play a key role in the administration's push for a transportation finance overhaul.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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