Christopher A. Iannella, Jr. is a current member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, also known as the Executive Council. This government body, created by the original Constitution of the Commonwealth in 1780, serves a key role in providing advice and consent to the Governor of Massachusetts. Attorney Iannella represents the 4th district which comprises parts of Boston and the South Shore. Formerly, he represented the 2nd district, making him the only person to have represented the constituents of two different districts.
The Governor’s Council finds its roots in the storied history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. From its earliest charter in 1629, Massachusetts has always had a provision for a council of assistants to the governor. Through the years, it has remained a prestigious and important institution while evolving to meet the needs of the modern state government. The current manifestation was created by the Constitution of Massachusetts as adopted in 1780 for the primary purpose of assisting the executive with nominations to the judiciary.
COMPOSITION AND DUTIES
There are eight members of the Governor’s Council who are elected every two years by the constituents of their respective districts. Each of the eight districts is composed of five senatorial districts, which are evaluated and adjusted on a regular basis to ensure evenly-distributed representation of the population. The lieutenant governor or governor presides over Governor’s Council meetings and hearings, and the lieutenant governor may vote to break a tie if the governor is also present. The councilors meet on a weekly basis, but also assemble for special hearings as the executive sees fit.
One of the primary tasks the councilors are responsible for is confirming appointments of certain public officials. Prospective judges for all of the state’s court branches are nominated by the governor; then, a Governor’s Council hearing is held concerning the appointee, and the members vote at the next regularly held meeting. Through this process, the Governor’s Council confirms the appointments for all judicial seats in the Commonwealth, of which there are over a hundred. This includes all Department of Industrial Accident administrative judges and administrative law judges, who preside over workers’ compensation matters, as well as the District and Superior Court judges who have jurisdiction over a variety of cases, including personal injury law suits.
Among their other vital objectives, the members of the Governor’s Council are tasked with the sensitive duty of weighing in on matters of executive clemency. As the head of the executive branch in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the governor has the ability to commute sentences and issue pardons. However, he is unable to do so unilaterally and instead must seek the advice of his council. Many commutations and pardons occur in the case of wrongful convictions, giving innocent people a second chance at freedom. These decisions are not taken lightly and of the many cases that go before the Advisory Board, only the most worthy make it to the desk of the governor. The Governor’s Council is the final arbiter on these life-changing matters.
Another important job for the councilors is signing off on the state government's warrant at their weekly meetings. Countless monetary decisions have faced the stringent scrutiny of the Governor's Council. An important example of this is the decision-making on Extra Work and Change Orders. This is the process by which companies contracted by the government are able to increase their funding when projects go over budget, as they too often do. The members of Governor's Council work hard to ensure that these requests are valid and fair. In this way they play a critical role in preventing fraud and abuse.