Before his suite of offices was dismantled last week, Frank posed for photographs with individual staff members and autographed the prints. The team has since been dispersed, some shunted to a makeshift work space in a basement cafeteria now dubbed “Cube City,” where retiring members, or those who lost, bide time until the new Congress is sworn in next month.
Frank is writing recommendations to help his staff secure new jobs. So eager are they to cement Frank’s place in history that they e-mailed a reporter a 192-page document of links to news clips — alphabetized by issue — spanning every medium from the Newton Tab to the New York Times.
“This is a man who worked really hard and never let a detail slip by him,” said Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat and close friend whose house Frank is now living in. “There aren’t too many members who have the guts to say what’s on their minds whenever they want to say it, and who are factually accurate. But he deserves another stage in life.”
That stage, it appears, will be off Broadway — at least for the night of Feb. 2 at the New York City Center.
A producer friend had asked Pingree to secure Frank for a walk-on part in “Fiorello!”, a Broadway musical about former mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York.
She asked Frank on the House floor between votes. He accepted; the show, he said, was one of his favorites.
“He completely recited the lyrics by heart in the middle of the House,” Pingree said. “But now the dilemma is how do I make sure it’s on his calendar? He doesn’t have a scheduler anymore.”
Frank says he is hiring a part-time secretary and signing up for his first e-mail address. In retirement, he will split time between Maine and Newton. By next fall, he hopes to be at teaching at Harvard.
“He’s put in his time. He looks forward to not having to report for floor duty and votes, but he’s not going to fold his tent up and disappear into the wilderness,” said Senator John Kerry.
Last week, Frank’s husband drove north with most of his personal belongings in a U-Haul van. Frank’s papers and other official documents will be donated to UMass Dartmouth. He will bestow the remainder of his campaign coffers – less than $32,000 as of the end of September — to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“I’m shutting down,” said Frank, one of the most prolific fund-raisers in Congress. He said his friends are in the process of raising money for an official portrait to be hung in the Financial Services Committee room.
But Frank’s departure from Washington is not all backslaps and champagne. Frank has accused Edward Markey, the dean of the delegation, of having been unwilling to exert influence on state lawmakers when they redrew district boundaries last year. Markey has said his role was to assure that the state’s congressional seats remain in Democratic hands rather than to protect individual members.
So as of now, there are no plans to fete the second-longest serving member of the notoriously clubby Massachusetts delegation whose members refer to each other as Jimmy (McGovern), Richie (Neal) and Eddie (Markey).
“I’m sure something’s in the works,” McGovern said. “Ask Eddie.”
“We’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out,” Markey said.
“I do not want anything,” Frank said. “I do not want to pretend everything is wonderful.”
Tracy Jan can be reached at email@example.com