In a move to reward a political ally, Governor Paul Cellucci has packed an obscure environmental board with his supporters to orchestrate the hiring of state Senator Thomas C. Norton, a Fall River Democrat who endorsed him last year, according to sources familiar with the board.
Cellucci's political payback to Norton would come several months after the board decided to curtail its operations, cut its staff to one person, and transfer most of its functions to other state agencies. It was scheduled to meet in two weeks to complete the plans.
But that course has apparently been halted. Sources said the board today will, after firing (Carol) Amick, announce the creation of a search process for a new director. The sources say the job is sure to go to Norton, the former Senate majority leader, who broke party ranks last October to back Cellucci. His endorsement finalized the bitter split that was developing between him and Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham, a Chelsea Democrat.